Dr. Matt here, XYLITOL. What is it? Xylitol is not new it has been around forever. It is in animal and plant metabolism. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol, a low-calorie carbohydrate made from birch bark, fibrous vegetables and fruit. Xylitol has no known toxic levels (in humans) and was approved by the FDA in 1963. Xylitol is even produced naturally in OUR bodies, up to 15 grams daily during normal metabolism. Because it metabolizes without using insulin, there is no blood sugar spike, making it ideal for a diabetic choice. It is as sweet tasting as Sucrose (table sugar). Beware Dogs are deathly sensitive to it just as they are to Chocolate since they have no way to fully metabolize it.
Why is XYLITOL important in Dentistry? Because dental decay (cavities) are transmissible from one person to another just like the common cold and flu through casual contact. So if you hang out with someone with nasty teeth you may get their decay germ pathogens and be susceptible to getting holes in your teeth. To interrupt the transmissibility you can chew xylitol gum, use xylitol toothpaste, and/or suck on xylitol lozenges. We recommend children ages 0-5 use xylitol toothpastes, and people 6-adult use the gum and lozenges. As adults take more saliva depleting medications they develop dry mouth and xylitol lozenges can help them dramatically by moistening tissues and protecting against dental decay. My favorite brand of lozenge right now are Ice Chips (http://www.icechipscandy.com ). They come in a metal container and there are twenty plus flavors. They can be found readily in stores. They are made local in Yelm Washington. My favorite line of xylitol products is SPRY. Most health food stores have many choices and the food Co-op has bulk xylitol. Spry products can also be found on line (http://www.xlear.com ) Many parents with infants can dip a small wet toothbrush directly into the white xylitol granules for brushing. The SPRY toothgel works too if you like something more contained or Squigel toothpaste(http://www.squigle.com ). How does xylitol stop the transmissibility? The bacteria in our mouths that cause the cavities eat the xylitol and it stops them from being mobile. They cannot move around. The scientific term is “significant decrease in motility”. Another benefit of using xylitol in young children is the elimination of ear infections. Using the xylitol tooth gel at bedtime helps to teeth but also protects against ear troubles (Otitis media). We found this to be very helpful with our kids. So there you have it. When you are at the grocery store next time look around and read labels for xylitol. Trident brand sugarless chewing gum has it too.
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