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In the eighties, artificial sweeteners in blue and pink packets, diet soda and sugar-free gum set the standard as "healthy" alternatives to their sugar-laden parent products. Today, there's another sweetener called xylitol touting sweet-as-sugar taste that is low in calories, and studies show it may help reduce and prevent cavities.
A natural sweetener found in plants and fruits, xylitol was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1986 as a food additive and is now appearing in sugar-free gum, mints and toothpaste.
Research confirms that of all factors studied, xylitol most likely inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans, the oral bacteria that causes cavities, according to Allen Otsuka, PhD, one author of a study in the July/August 2002 issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed publication of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).
Reviewed: January 2012
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