Benefits of Xylitol on Pediatric Dental Health
Xylitol packs a powerful punch in the fight against tooth decay. Fluoride and xylitol team up to initiate repair of weak or damaged enamel. Dr. Cima Mazar-Atabaki is a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist who is well-versed in the positive long-term impact xylitol has on pediatric oral health. She is a brilliant Aliso Viejo Pediatric Dentist who believes in empowering her patients through education and quality care.
What is Xylitol?
It is a natural sugar found in some fruits, berries, vegetables, and birch trees. Technically, it is a five-carbon sugar with a very low glycemic index. As such, it is often used as an alternative sweetener by diabetics. Historically speaking, Native Americans used birch as a tooth cleanser and even made rattles from birch to help protect their children’s teeth from damage. When there was a sugar shortage in Europe during WWII, xylitol was used in its place. After a formal study in Finland in 1970 confirmed the safety and efficacy of xylitol, it was approved by both the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the FDA. Since then, multiple studies have shown xylitol to prevent and reverse tooth decay.
How Does it Work?
Xylitol presents a double whammy for naturally occurring bad bacteria that resides in the mouth. Sugars on teeth are consumed by this bacteria and the acids that cause decay are left behind. What if the bacteria is unable to digest the sweetener? No acid by-products are produced and bacteria numbers diminish. The surviving bacteria are rendered incapable of sticking to teeth.
Not only does xylitol basically starve the bacteria in the mouth, it also helps repair areas where the enamel has already been damaged. Saliva production increases when chewing gum or consuming candy containing xylitol and helps wash away the dying bacteria. This leaves room for minerals like calcium and phosphate salts to work their way into weakened or damaged areas to begin repair.
How Early Can I Start Using Xylitol On My Children’s Teeth?
To cut down on the potential for tooth decay, chewing xylitol gum during pregnancy and infancy produces incredible results. By the time the children of xylitol gum-chewers are five years old, they are 70% less likely to end up with rotten teeth. The mother is also less likely to unintentionally transfer bacteria to her child’s mouth, therefore protecting the natural balance of good and bad bacteria. As children learn to brush on their own, they should use a toothpaste that contains both xylitol and fluoride to cut down even further on cavities.
Visit OC Kids Dental in Aliso Viejo, CA to learn more about the positive effects of xylitol on dental health. Dr. Cima and her team look forward to helping patients keep their teeth healthy for many years to come.