Dental Tribune USA

Demand for sugar substitute prompts company’s growth

By Robert Selleck, Dental Tribune Canada
November 18, 2011

A Toronto-based reseller and distributor of xylitol products announced recently that it is expanding its product line following acquisition of higher-capacity production facilities. The growth at Xylitol Canada comes as research indicates that certain sugar substitutes, including xylitol, can play a beneficial role in caries prevention.*

The company sells xylitol-sweetened chewing gum, lollipops, mints, chocolates and other candies across North America and is looking toward global expansion. It also sells bulk quantities of xylitol as a white-sugar substitute, and it is a raw supplier to other producers of xylitol-sweetened products.

Xylitol cavity-fighting status grows

A recent resource paper published by the Canadian Dental Association Committee on Clinical and Scientific Affairs references the role xylitol can play in caries prevention for frail, older adults, stating: “In-office caries prevention could also include the regular use of direct application of fluoride varnish on teeth at risk. Sugar substitutes, particularly the use of xylitol (non-acidogenic) chewing gum, can be effective.”

The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs in September approved release of clinical recommendations from an ADA-convened multidisciplinary panel that analyzed 65 trials and studies of nonfluoride-based cavity-prevention products, including xylitol-based gum and lozenges.

The dental organizations focused on possible benefits of certain sugar-free products used in conjunction with basic cavity-fighting efforts, such as healthy diet and use of fluoridated toothpaste, water and professionally applied varnishes and sealants. The ADA panel was not in universal agreement on cavity-fighting benefits of the sugar-free products. But the majority found that the evidence indicated with a “moderate level of certainty” caries-reduction benefits – especially for those at high risk.

Higher-risk patients targeted

The ADA report recommends clinicians advise parents of healthy children who are age 5 and older and at high risk for cavities to have their children use the sugar-free products. The recommendation: After meals, chew sugar-free gum for 10 to 20 minutes or use xylitol lozenges or hard candy. The finding was extrapolated to adults.

The science that xylitol advocates would point to as confirmation of the recommendation is that such sweeteners aren’t broken down by bacteria in the mouth, thus helping to keep saliva pH levels neutral and inhibiting tooth decay. Some of the ADA panelists, however, felt there wasn’t enough research on benefits of chewing-action in general to confirm precise correlation between the sugar substitutes and decay inhibition. (The panel does note established oral-health benefits of minimized sugar intake.)

The panel’s majority recommendations would seem to be good news for Xylitol Canada. “A year ago we purchased Emerald Forest (a Colorado -based producer of xylitol products) and we set out to expand our product business, overhaul the brands, launch new innovative products, and increase revenue. I’m pleased to say that we are ahead of schedule in each of these areas,” Xylitol Canada CEO and founder Andrew Reid said in an October news release. “The new facility will give our team all of the tools required to continue to grow the business at this impressive pace.”

The company reports that the new production facility, near Denver, will enable it to meet increased demand. The addition also brings improved research and development capabilities. The company plans to release six new products through the balance of 2011.

The company’s website describes xylitol as an all-natural sweetener that looks and tastes like granulated sugar. It’s found in most fruits and vegetables and after extraction is processed into a white, crystalline granule that can replace white sugar in recipes. It has 75 percent fewer carbohydrates and 40 percent fewer calories than sugar. It’s also approved for use by diabetics.

(Sources: Canadian Dental Association, American Dental Association, Xylitol Canada)


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