Maltitol is produced by hydrogenation of the disaccharide maltose, which in turn is obtained by enzymatic hydrolysis of purified starch. Maltitol is available as a crystalline powder and as a maltitol syrup.
Fermentable sugars are potentially cariogenic since they are fermented by bacteria in the plaque and produce organic acids. The production of organic acids leads to a drop in pH at the tooth surface with subsequent decalcification and potential damage of the tooth enamel. Decalcification occurs once the plaque pH value falls below 5.7. Polyols are not fermented by mouth bacteria and are therefore non-cariogenic and safe for teeth.
Relative sweetness of polyols
Sweetness depends much on individual perception as well as on other parameters, like concentration, pH and the presence of other food ingredients. Numerous trials have resulted in guidelines for general accepted sweetness values of various polyols. Usually expressed relative to sucrose.