Prevent cavities for yourself and your kids with sugar?
Xylitol (say “zy-li-tahl”) is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol derived most often from birch wood. It is also produced naturally in our bodies in small quantities. Xylitol is amazingly sweet with about 40% of the calories of table sugar and none of the health concerns that other sweeteners have such as aspartame (Equal, Nutrasweet), sorbitol (used in most sugarless gum and candy), saccharin (Sweet’nLow, sugar twin), and sucralose (Splenda).
Xylitol eliminates harmful bacteria in your mouth and promotes the growth of helpful bacteria. Dental plaque bacteria use sugar and carbohydrates to grow, multiply, produce acids, and stick to the teeth causing cavities. But xylitol cannot be metabolized by bacteria…so no acid, no plaque, no cavities. Xylitol also promotes re-mineralization of damaged but not yet decayed tooth surfaces, effectively reversing initial stage cavities. It reduces the acidity of your saliva making a healthier environment – you can tell the difference just in the way your mouth tastes and feels.
Strive for Five – The recommended “dose” is 5 to 10 grams daily. Five for maintenance, 10 if you are high risk for dental decay. Studies have shown that 5 to 10 grams of xylitol per day can reduce the acid-producing bacteria in your mouth by as much as 95% after just six months.
Gum: IceBreakers IceCubes is readily available at drug stores. It contains enough xylitol (about 1g per piece) to be beneficial unlike many other sugarless gums that contain mostly sorbitol and only small amounts of xylitol. Chew 1 piece for 5-10 minutes then spit it out. Repeat up to 5 or 6 times daily. For you hard-core gum chewers this will be tough, but you just want to chew until the flavor is gone, then throw it away.
Lozenges: A little more complex at the candy counter, not all lozenges and mints are created equal. I recommend going online for these products. An advantage to buying in bulk is that you will always have some on hand. You may want to try “Zellies”, a great tasting and quality product (www.zelliescleanwhiteteeth.com) manufactured by Dr. Ellie Phillips. Other good products can be found at www.bfreshgum.com or www.epicdental.com.
Granular: Pure xylitol is available in granular form like sugar packets. Each packet contains 1tsp (4 grams) of xylitol. Recommended daily intake is 6 grams. So take 1/2 packet 3 times daily (1/4 if you like, just twice as often) xylitol, place on tongue and let it dissolve. It is easy, convenient and tastes great. Use in coffee or iced tea in place of sugar if you don’t like the direct application.
In conclusion…you can stop by the office any time, we usually have samples and may be dispensing some of these products in the near future. As with other good products, it will probably not be long until these are readily available at your pharmacy, grocery, or health food stores.
It is great to see how dentistry seems to be renewing and rewriting prevention techniques. There are more arrows in the quiver now than just fluoride and regular checkups! We are thrilled to be doing caries risk assessments and getting patients involved at the daily level at home to reset oral bacteria, lower oral acidity and start the prevention process before we start the repair process!
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Jay Wise
***TO OUR FRIENDS WITH PETS…Xylitol, even in small amounts can be extremely dangerous to your pets, especially dogs. Please be careful to keep all products containing xylitol out of reach of your pets.