I wrote about xylitol when I discovered it in Japan four years ago, and that remains one of my most popular posts. Although I did not experiment further with xylitol as a sugar substitute, I continued to use it as a dental rinse, swishing a small spoonful around in my mouth after brushing my teeth at night.
Until I started worrying about the fact that the xylitol I had was made in China, that is. Chinese manufacturers were caught substituting poisonous substances for more expensive, safe ingredients in toothpaste and children's toys, as I wrote about in 2007, and later in baby formula, candy, and other products containing milk. I wrote to the manufacturer of my xylitol, seeking reassurance, but received no answer.
So I got lazy, and simply eliminated the xylitol rinse from my tooth-cleaning routine. That was a year ago, and six months later the dental hygienist wondered what was going on: my gums, which had been healthy for years, were now a mess.
The only change in my routine had been that I was no longer using the xylitol. Chastened, I decided to assume diligence and responsibility on the part of the manufacturer, and resumed my nighttime rinsing.
This week I returned to the dentist and the hygienist was wowed by the positive changes and return to health of my gums.
Did xylitol make the difference? It's hard not to come to that conclusion.* At any rate, I don't intend to repeat the experiment if I can help it, even though it still feels strange to rinse my mouth with something sweet, especially without brushing my teeth afterwards!