Imagine living every day without enough saliva in your mouth – trying to swallow, to talk, to chew food, and struggling with each task. This constant discomfort is a reality for anyone diagnosed with Sjögren’s Syndrome. Finding a way to produce more saliva – without always sucking on a sugary candy or lozenge – has been a never-ending search for those with dry mouth. But the simple birch tree – and the natural sweetener, xylitol, that it produces – may just be the answer.
About four million Americans live with Sjögren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune condition that attacks the body’s moisture-producing glands, including salivary glands. One of the primary – and most difficult to live with - symptoms of Sjögren’s is dry mouth.
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is caused by the body producing too little saliva. While saliva is primarily water, it also contains numerous other substances which serve to protect teeth from decay, help with chewing and swallowing, and to lubricate and help cleanse the mouth. When there is too little saliva, all of these functions suffer.
While there are prescription medications that have been developed to help relieve the symptoms of dry mouth, many sufferers find that they still need something to get them through the daily motions of talking, eating, and swallowing. Small sips of water can help, but too much water can actually dilute the small amounts of saliva being produced and decrease its benefits.
Finding ways to stimulate saliva is a constant quest for those living with Sjögren’s. Many turn to candy, gum, and lozenges for that purpose, but of course the sugar often found in those sweets can further promote tooth decay - already a risk in a dry mouth that lacks saliva to rinse away food particles. And “sugar-free” candies, with various artificial sweeteners, may carry their own risks.
Treats sweetened with xylitol, however, may just be the best of both worlds. Xylitol is a natural extract of the birch tree. It provides a natural sweetness to hard candies and gums, and in fact, it has been shown to actually fight against tooth decay instead of promote it – a big bonus for anyone with dry mouth.
Today there is an amazing array of hard candies, gums, lollipops, and more made with xylitol, and offered in a rainbow of trendy flavors like pomegranate, cherry blossom, mango, and much more (including classic favorites like grape and peppermint.) Visit www.drjohns.com for a great selection of treats sweetened with xylitol.