Dr Lisa Marie Samaha and Nancy Heath, RDH
You’re a Dentist. What in the world are you suggesting?
That might sound like the craziest thing you have ever heard a cosmetic dentist and hygienist tell you. But you read it right. The sugar, xylitol, is poised to replace fluoride as the greatest (and safest) scientific discovery for healthier mouths. Xylitol has none of the controversy that surrounds fluoride and it comes in a variety of usable forms that make it very easy, delicious and economical to use.
Yes, folks, there’s a battle going on in our mouths and xylitol can help us win the battle, hands down. There really is such a thing as a “good sugar.” Xylitol actually helps to prevent not only tooth decay, but gum disease! Because it is anti-bacterial and anti-viral, it also helps prevent upper respiratory and ear infections.
In much the same way that there are good fats like flax seed oil, and bad fats like trans fats, not all sugars are bad for your teeth. Xylitol is a safe, all natural sweetener that tastes great and does not lead to health problems! Yes, just imagine a sweetener that is actually good for you in many ways… AND PREVENTS tooth decay!
Tooth decay happens when the bacteria in our mouth consume the sugars we eat. Typical sugar gives the bacteria on our teeth energy, allowing them to multiply and produce acids that eat away the tooth enamel. This “acid attack” is what causes cavities. The dangers of sugars and refined carbohydrates in the diet have been well documented as the ultimate enemy of good health. Excess consumption of sugar can cause weight gain and high blood sugar – leading to obesity, diabetes or both. Sugar also raises blood pressure, triglycerides and bad cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease. Yeast (fungal) infections are also increased in the mouth and the gut as sugar “feeds” fungus and worst of all, sugar feeds cancer cells! Commonly known, children who consume high levels of sugar have difficulty concentrating and also demonstrate hyperactivity, making learning a real challenge.
And that’s just scraping the surface of the havoc most sugar causes in and on our bodies.
What is xylitol and where does it come from?
Pure xylitol is NOT an artificial sweetener, it is a natural sugar! Not only does it taste like sugar, it looks like sugar!
Lucky for us, xylitol is COMPLETELY and uniquely different from other sugars. It is found in nature and derived from birch trees, sugarcane, corn cobs and stalks, fruits, vegetables, berries, mushrooms, and lettuce. Xylitol has the same sweetness as sugar, teaspoon for teaspoon, but with none of the negative tooth decay or insulin-release effects of sugar. To top it off, scientific research has proven that it can reduce tooth decay by up to 90%! In fact, in some European countries, it has been used to successfully prevent tooth decay in children for years.
In the early 1970s, xylitol’s ability to prevent cavities was first discovered. Studies have shown that xylitol even kills the bacteria and viruses that cause upper respiratory infections. Who knew you could prevent tooth decay, boost your immune system and possibly prevent your next cold, flu, ear or sinus infection, too! Xylitol can also be used to help asthma sufferers.
How does Xylitol work?
Xylitol actually creates a slippery surface on the teeth and mucous membranes like the sinus cavities, causing bacteria to literally slide off the tooth or membrane surface.
How do I use Xylitol & where do I find it?
We recommend Xylitol as a natural replacement for fluoride in the water you drink, or any other beverages you drink. A standard regimen would be: 5 Times a day, add 1 tsp of Xylitol to your water and drink. Continued sipping over time is best.
We do NOT recommend soft drinks, sports drinks and even fruit juices (the “real thing,” ie, the fruit itself, is full of healthy fiber and nutrients and doesn’t carry with it the cavity causing effects of juices, nor the danger of osteoporosis, or kidney stones. Additionally, blood sugar spikes are minimized.
Xylitol does not break down like natural sugar so the body does not utilize or store it like other sugars. In fact, it does not cause an increase in blood sugar or pH levels, meaning it is not only “diabetic-friendly”, it doesn’t produce any acid in the mouth.
Caution: Most sugar free gums, mints, and candies contain sorbitol, a sugar that actually feeds the cavity causing bacteria in the mouth! DO NOT use traditional sugar free products. If combined with mannitol and/or sorbitol, the positive effects of xylitol are actually decreased. Therefore, it is critical that you ONLY use pure 100% Xylitol products. A 5 minute “chew” form of candies or gum can be used instead of your dosing of water with Xylitol, if preferred.
Xylitol and Breastfeeding
It is generally believed that xylitol products are safe for breastfeeding women. Best of all, scientific research shows, it may be beneficial for mothers of young infants (whether breastfeeding or not) to use xylitol products. Interesting studies have shown that mothers who chew xylitol chewing gum regularly during the first year or so of baby’s life have reduced risk of transmitting the bacteria that causes cavities to their babies. (YES, dental decay, as well as gum disease, are transmissible from one person to another throughout life. Babies are born with sterile mouths and are infected – by parents and caregivers – with the bacteria that cause dental disease, as infants.)
Just imagine a health regimen that you and your children can’t resist! If you prefer chewing over sipping, 5 sticks of xylitol-sweetened chewing gum or mints is effective – for as little as 5 minutes each. It’s that simple.
Xylitol for the elderly
A rampant increase in dental decay and periodontal disease occurs during the aging process when home care and dietary options are compromised and many medications cause dry mouth. Xylitol can be a life saver for those challenged as they age, constipation and even upper respiratory problems can be minimized with the use of this versatile, natural product.
An array of Xylitol products are readily available at our office for your convenience. *
Although it is a natural product, xylitol can still cause side effects. Some of the more commonly reported side effects (especially w/ high dosage) include diarrhea and gas. So proceed slowly if you are new to xylitol. And do know, some people cannot tolerate the effects of xylitol and should not use it. Contact our cosmetic dental office if you have any questions regarding side effects.
It should be noted that even a small amount of xylitol can be lethal for a dog, as they react differently to this product than humans do. Keep out of reach and don’t EVER feed Xylitol to a dog. Dogs appear to be the only animal of concern.
* As with all products available in our office, we do not sell these products for profit, but to make them more conveniently available for you. You may go online to locate 100% Xylitol products, or call us for more information about the xylitol products we carry at 757-223-9270 or email: Admin@PWDentalArts.com.