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Xylitol – Reducing Cavities

Tooth decay is a common, yet preventable childhood problem.  Left untreated, cavities in primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth become painful and negatively impact the esthetics and functionality of the teeth.

Some children are particularly susceptible to tooth decay, even after receiving regular dental examinations and oral care at home.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has recently recognized the benefits of a substance called Xylitol for reducing childhood tooth decay.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a natural substance that can be found in a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Some of the most common Xylitol- rich foods include: berries, mushrooms, corns, and lettuces.  Study results indicate that 4-20 grams of Xylitol each day, divided into three or more helpings, can reduce tooth decay and cavities by as much as 70%.  As a point of reference, a single cup of berries contains a little less than one gram of Xylitol.

It can be difficult to encourage children (especially toddlers) to consistently eat four or more cups of fruit or vegetables each day.  For this reason, Xylitol is also available as a sugar substitute, a gum, and as a concentrate in numerous health foods. No other sugar substitute has been shown to benefit young teeth in the same way.

It should be noted that excessive Xylitol consumption does not provide “more” tooth protection.  Sticking to the recommended daily amount is enough to enhance other cavity-reduction efforts, and the effects will last well into the future.

How does Xylitol work?

The combination of many factors increases susceptibility to childhood tooth decay and cavities.  These factors include: oral care habits, diet, carbohydrate consumption, sucrose consumption, salivary flow rate, and tooth resistance to plaque.

More specifically, harmful oral bacteria feed on sugars and carbohydrates, producing acids.  When sugary foods are consumed, these acids attack and destroy vulnerable tooth enamel. Xylitol works to neutralize the acids, reducing enamel destruction, and minimizing the threat of cavities in the process.  Xylitol also stimulates saliva production, meaning that food particles, plaque and bacteria are continually removed from the teeth.  When used in combination with fluoride, Xylitol works to remineralize teeth, protecting tooth enamel and minimizing new cavity formation.

When should my child start using Xylitol?

Although Xylitol gum is not suitable for very young children, infants actually benefit from maternal chewing!  Mothers of children between three months and two years old who used Xylitol gum several times each day, protected their child from tooth decay until the age of five years old.  In this case, Xylitol reduced the amount of microorganisms transmitted from mother to child.

Once the child reaches toddlerhood, Xylitol can be consumed as a sugar substitute, or as a natural byproduct of eating fruit and vegetables.  Older children can reduce the threat of new cavities by chewing Xylitol gum.

If you have questions or concerns about Xylitol or tooth decay, please contact our practice.

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I've been to many dentists over the years, but nothing prepared me for the most amazing experiences I've had with Doc Wood and his team of experts. Warm, kind, anxiety free and most of all... actually enjoyable.

No one enjoys going to the Dentist, I thought. But I can now say with certainty that I do, and look forward to seeing them again which is why I come all the way from Los Angeles to Corvallis. An incredible experience with incredible people. THANKS, DOC! YOU'RE THE BEST! If only all Dentists could be like you... we'd all have amazing teeth!

Fireball T.L.

Best dental office ever. Skilled professionals with a gentle touch, always concerned with my comfort level, and excellent at what they do. Also, state of the art equipment creates your crowns while you wait. No more temporary crowns and multiple visits. Awesome!

Connie E.

I actually travel across 2 states to visit Dr Wood at his office. His gentle touch is worth the drive. Not to mention his staff is always so courteous and kind, but not nosey. I can't believe how nice it is to not have to fear going to the dentist anymore. Also he is the best at giving shots. Hardly feel them. I actually enjoy going to the dentist. It's like being with family! That's the only way to say it. Plus he really works well with my insurance. And he knows what he is doing! And has some really great equipment. I needed a new tooth and they did everything in house. No repeat visit, just a quick change. My smile has never looked better. Thanks Dr Wood!!!! :)

Jeremy S.

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