There’s a new “sugar” on the market, and it’s one you won’t have to worry about your kids getting their hands on. It’s called xylitol, a naturally occurring carbohydrate that looks and tastes like regular sugar. But since it’s not actually sugar, it won’t cause cavities in your children’s teeth. In fact, Xylitol has been approved by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) for reducing the risk of cavities in younger children.
What is Xylitol?
So we’ve already said xylitol is a naturally occurring carbohydrate, but where does it come from? Xylitol can be found in most of the fruits and vegetables that we eat on a daily basis, just in small amounts. In fact, it even occurs naturally in our bodies, with the average size adult manufacturing up to 15 grams of xylitol per day. For commercial purposes, however, manufacturers extract xylitol from corncobs or trees. In its pure form, xylitol takes the form of a white crystalline substance that looks and tastes like sugar.
How is it used?
There are several ways you can use xylitol. You can use its pure crystalline form as a sweetener, whether you’re pouring it over your child’s cereal or sprinkling it on some fresh strawberries. Xylitol can also be found in several oral care products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash. There are even xylitol gums and mints. Dental experts recommend children use a 100 percent xylitol product 6-7 times per day whether it is a mint or chewing gum containing xylitol. The frequency of use is more important than the amount used and products containing less than 100 percent are not effective enough to help the dentition.
Benefits of Xylitol
There are many benefits of Xylitol that have been proven to help the oral health of kids when their teeth are still developing. Tooth decay occurs due to bacteria in the mouth multiplying and then releasing an acid that causes the tooth to weaken (demineralize) and decay. Unfortunately brushing and flossing only temporarily remove bacteria from the teeth.
Xylitol acts like a deterrent for these bacteria and keeps the acid levels down. In addition to reducing the risk of tooth decay, it also reduces plaque formation and increases the flow of saliva to aid in the repair of damaged tooth enamel.
If there are early signs of tooth decay in children less than five, it is a good idea to seek the help of a kids’ dentist. Those who cater to the young and growing will be able to focus better on the dental needs of a child than someone who only treats adults. Overall, keeping good dental hygiene and brushing twice a day will reduce the risk of cavities and Xylitol can supplement that to prevent the acid formation. Simple ways like this are better paths to take than dental work in the future.