All about qii
Betty Zou, Ph D.
Arch enemies: acid and your teeth
Acid exposure can wear away tooth enamel and dentin, the hard tissue underneath the enamel, when the pH drops below 5.5 and 6.5, respectively.1,2 Most commercial beverages, such as soft drinks, fruit juices and bottled teas, have a pH that is much lower than these critical pH points. This is because they contain various additives and preservatives to maintain flavour and texture and to improve shelf life.3
qii is different. With a shelf-stable pH around 7, it helps maintain a neutral, non-acidic oral environment that allows the beneficial bacteria in your mouth to thrive.
An entire community of microbes inside us
Our bodies are home to a vast ecosystem of microscopic organisms called the human microbiome. Their numbers are immense—scientists estimate that there are as many bacterial cells in our bodies as human cells—and their powers are astonishing. From training the immune system to breaking down food, these microbes play an essential role in maintaining our overall health. They aren’t always do-gooders though. Under certain conditions, they can collude with harmful bacteria to wreak havoc and cause disease.4,5
The most well-studied of these microbial communities lives in the gut where beneficial bacteria, such as those found in probiotics, help improve gut health and immune function.
At qii, we’re looking at the microbiome beyond—or rather, before—the gut: the microbiome inside our mouths.
A look inside our mouths
The mouth harbors one of the most diverse bacterial ecosystems in the body. We’re focused on understanding both the harmful bacteria that trigger cavities, periodontal disease and bad breath as well as the beneficial microbes that support oral health. We’re finding ways to wipe out the bad while nurturing the good.
The battle between good and bad
The human mouth provides a fertile environment for bacteria. It’s warm and moist and offers a 24-hour all-you-can-eat buffet of nutrients from saliva and the food we eat. Tooth surfaces provide an ideal meetup spot for bacteria to grow in groups called biofilms, one type of which is dental plaque. Plaque normally contains a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. When this delicate balance is thrown askew by the bad overtaking the good—a condition known as dysbiosis—disease happens. For instance, a diet high in sugar provides ample fuel for harmful bacteria to ferment into different types of acid. These byproducts make the oral environment more acidic which, in turn, allows the acid-loving bad bacteria to outcompete the beneficial bacteria in plaque. The dysbiosis caused by the acidic environment can lead to the worsening of cavities, periodontal disease and bad breath.6,7,8
Starve them out
A regular oral health regimen of brushing, rinsing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist can keep your oral microbiome and health in check. Despite our best efforts, however, this isn’t always enough to keep oral diseases at bay. At qii, we want to find ways to keep your mouth healthy from morning to night by focusing what we’re feeding—and not feeding—the harmful microbes. Our initial research honed in on xylitol, a compound originally discovered in birch tree bark that has proven oral health benefits.9 These benefits are related to the fact that xylitol can’t be fermented by cavity-causing bad bacteria, thereby essentially starving them out of the oral microbiome.10
Our secret weapon
As an ingredient, xylitol has been used for decades in food and oral care products but its power hasn’t been fully exploited until now. To develop qii, we studied the cavity-preventing properties of xylitol and how they can be strengthened. Our research has focused on boosting the power of xylitol against damaging bacteria in dental plaque while lowering its effective dose to prevent unwanted side effects.
The end product is XyVita™, a unique xylitol formulation that works in small amounts so that there aren’t any uncomfortable side effects. When delivered alongside a neutral pH solution, XyVita™ can effectively disrupt biofilm formation in certain harmful bacteria including the common oral pathogens Streptococcus mutans, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Solobacterium moorei.
Thanks to this breakthrough discovery, XyVita™ is now a cornerstone ingredient in qii, our daytime defense against oral disease.
1. Hicks J, Garcia-Godoy F, Flaitz C. 2005. Biological factors in dental caries enamel structure and the caries process in the dynamic process of demineralization and remineralization (part 2). J Clin Pediatr Dent. 29(2): 119-24.
2. Delgado AJ, Olafsson VG. 2017. Acidic oral moisturizers with pH below 6.7 may be harmful to teeth depending on formulation: a short report. Clin Cosmet Investig Dent. 9: 81-3.
3. Reddy A, Norris DF, Momeni SS, Waldo B, Ruby JD. 2016. The pH of beverages in the United States. J Am Dent Assoc. 147(4): 255-63.
4.Lozupone CA, Stombaugh JI, Gordon JI, Jansson JK, Knight R. 2012. Diversity, stability and resilience of the human gut microbiota. Nature. 489: 220-30.
5. Blaser M, Bork P, Fraser C, Knight R, Wang J. 2013. The microbiome explored: recent insights and future challenges. Nat Rev Microbiol. 11: 213-7.
6. Sampaio-Maia B, Caldas IM, Pereira ML, Pérez-Mongiovi D, Araujo R. 2016. The oral microbiome in health and its implication in oral and systemic diseases. Adv Appl Microbiol. 97: 171-210.
7. Kilian M, Chapple IL, Hannig M, Marsh PD, Meuric V, Pedersen AM, Tonetti MS, Wade WG, Zaura E. 2016. The oral microbiome – an update for oral healthcare professionals. Br Dent J. 221:657-66.
8. Takeshita T, Suzuki N, Nakano Y, Yasui M, Yoneda M, Shimazaki Y, Hirofuji T, Yamashita Y. 2012. Discrimination of the oral microbiota associated with high hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan production. Sci Rep. 2:215.
9. Mäkinen KK. 2011. Sugar alcohol sweeteners as alternatives to sugar with special consideration of xylitol. Med Princ Pract. 20:303-20.
10. Miyasawa-Hori H, Aizawa S, Takahashi N. 2006. Difference in the xylitol sensitivity of acid production among Streptococcus mutans strains and the biochemical mechanism. Oral Microbiol Immunol. 21:201-5.
Betty Zou, Ph D.
Scientist turned science writer and communicator. I turn complex scientific concepts and studies into clear and engaging content for diverse lay audiences. Previous work include blog posts, news articles and releases, patient and customer profiles, feature length stories, donor reports and marketing materials. My areas of expertise are molecular biology, microbiology and microbiome-related topics but I have also written extensively about other health and medicine topics such as cancer, cardiology and trauma.
Dental plaque is made up of millions of bacteria that live in a sticky film on the surface of teeth. This microbial community is also referred to as a biofilm. To study the effectiveness of qii in reducing dental plaque, we tested it in the lab against the oral pathogens Streptococcus mutans(tooth decay and cavities), Porphyromonas gingivalis (gingivitis) and Solobacterium moorei (halitosis).