What is it?Xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that can be found in plants, fruits, and vegetables and is even produced in the human body by normal metabolism. The xylitol used in our toothpaste is produced either from birch tree pulp or corn. Though there is some processing involved in extracting the ingredient, the end result is the same as the xylitol found naturally in plants and the same whether from birch trees or from corn. Although manufacturing from birch trees is more sustainable and we are committed to using that source whenever available, shortages in the supply of xylitol from birch trees has required us to maintain an alternate source from corn.
What does it do?Xylitol is a multifunctional ingredient. It imparts sweetness, releases a cooling sensation when it dissolves and does not promote tooth decay because it is non-fermentable by oral plaque bacteria, and at some levels is known as a plaque acid reducer.
What are the alternatives?Although there are other ingredients that could impart some of the same properties, we have chosen to use xylitol in several of our oral care products because of its natural source and possibly additional dental hygiene benefits.
What are the risks?Xylitol has no known toxicity or carcinogenicity. It is listed by the US Food and Drug Administration as an ingredient that is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). It has a long history of use in food dating back to the 1960's and is included in such products as chewing gum, syrup, toothpastes, mouthwashes, and pharmaceuticals. However, xylitol, like chocolate, should never be given to dogs! Canine ingestion of xylitol promotes the release of insulin and wreaks havoc with a dog's normal glucose levels, causing hypoglycemia—in other words, a sugar crash. The dose of xylitol will affect the severity of the response, but that dose is also affected by the animal's own ability to produce insulin and its sugar metabolism rates. For more information, see the American Veterinary Medical Association.
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