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Xylitol is a sugar alcohol sweetener used as a sugar substitute in foods. Unlike other sweeteners on the market, xylitol has been shown to be actively beneficial for dental health. It has been shown to reduce tooth decay by about a third in regular use.

Can Xylitol Work To Improve Dental Hygiene?

There have been a number of scientific research studies that have shown the benefits of chewing gum sweetened with Xylitol after meals and snacks. Xylitol makes an excellent sweetener, as it has many similar properties to regular table sugar (sucrose). However, unlike table sugar, xylitol reduces tooth cavities.

Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It contains far fewer calories than table sugar and has less of an effect on the bodies overall blood sugar levels. Xylitol has a low glycemic index of 7, compared to sugar’s level of 83. It also does not break down like sugar and can help maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol has the ability to inhibit the creation of acid in the mouth. By lowering the acid content in the mouth, this in turn lowers the risk of tooth decay.

Tooth decay happens when bacteria in your mouth consume the sugars we eat. When you eat food containing ordinary sugar (sucrose), it gives bacteria on your teeth energy, allowing them to multiply and start making acids that can eat away the enamel on the teeth. This acid attack causes tooth decay and cavities to begin to form.

Products sweetened with xylitol create an unwelcome environment for bacteria. They simply cannot stick to teeth in a xylitol rich environment.  This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay. With Xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped. The bacteria in the mouth that are causing cavities are unable to digest xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced. The number of acid producing bacteria may decrease by as much as 90%. No acid is formed because the pH of saliva and plaque does not fall. After taking xylitol, the bacteria do not stick well on the surface of the teeth and as a result, the amount of plaque decreases. Many people are not aware of this ancillary benefit because such a claim makes xylitol into a drug. This crosses a legal boundary not allowed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

It has been recommended that you chew a piece of xylitol gum after every meal or snack to gain maximum benefit to your teeth. Xylitol is recommended by dentists and physicians worldwide as a sweetener for anyone concerned with dental health, upper respiratory health, and sugar consumption, in general.

Can Xylitol Repair Damage to Enamel Too?

Research has also shown that the use of xylitol helps repair damage to the enamel. Saliva protects the mouth and teeth. Stimulated saliva in particular contains all the components needed to repair early tooth cavities. If sugar is only taken a couple of times a day, the saliva can do the job alone. But most people take sugar so often that the mouth’s own defensive tools are not enough.

Saliva that has xylitol is more alkaline than saliva stimulated by other sugar products. After taking xylitol products, the concentration of basic amino acids and ammonia in saliva and plaque may rise, and plaque pH rises as well. When pH is above 7, calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to move into those parts of enamel that are weak. Therefore, soft, calcium deficient enamel sites begin to harden again.

Conclusion Dental Xylitol

Xylitol can help maintain a healthy oral environment, but does not replace dental hygiene! As a sweetener, xylitol is a very good choice. Some sweeteners come with health risks, studies clearly show that xylitol has health benefits. It doesn’t spike blood sugar or insulin, starves the plaque producing bacteria in your mouth and feeds friendly microbes in your digestive system. If you are looking for an alternative that is healthier regular sugar, give xylitol a try.

Xylitol can be an excellent addition to normal brushing and flossing coupled with regular dental visits and professional cleanings. The best part is it is quite easy to incorporate xylitol into your daily routine to improve dental health as well as overall health.



Dental Hygiene – The practice of keeping the mouth, teeth, and gums clean and healthy to prevent oral disease, by regular brushing and flossing and visits to a dentist.

Halloween time is a fun time for the whole family…the weather begins to turn, leaving cooler weather for lots of quality family time. It also means its time to pick out Halloween costumes for the kids and family as well as looking forward to collecting bags full of candy from the neighbors and at school. In those bags of candy lies an unsuspecting hazard…Sugar! Sugar consumption without proper dental hygiene leads to tooth decay.

But this time does not have to be a time being scared of possible dental issues following Halloween. It can give parents and children alike a chance to learn new dental hygiene tricks to maintain their dental health throughout the year.

Dental Hygiene Tips

By following the dental hygiene tips below, parents can help prevent tooth decay for their trick or treaters while teaching them good dental hygiene habits:

1. Be Selective. Not all of the Halloween treats are scary. A good dental hygiene tip is to encourage kids to eat candy that melts fast and can be eaten quickly. Try to avoid gooey, sticky sweets (like caramels) that can linger on in the mouth and on the teeth. This will allow the bacteria in the mouth to produce more acid which will cause tooth decay. Remind kids after eating any sugary candy to brush their teeth or at the very least rinse their mouths out with water. This will lessen the amount of time the sugar stays in contact with the teeth. A really good idea might be to buy a new toothbrush that is Halloween related as a final “treat”.

2. Hide the excess candy. Do not just leave the Halloween candy around the house after the Halloween trick or treating is over. Store it in a secret place out of reach from kids and adults.

3. Avoid grazing. If you maintain dental hygiene tip #2 this should not be an issue. The idea is not to just keep picking at the candy throughout the day. This reduces the time the sugars are in the mouth decreasing chance of tooth decay. A better idea is to hold back candy and use it as an after meal treat. Then have your child immediately brush and rinse to neutralize the sugar and acid production. Another option, if you cannot brush or rinse is to give them a sugar free xylitol gum. The gum will help increase salivary flow which will also help to neutralize the acids in the mouth.

4. Eat a Healthy Meal first. Have children not fill up on snacks and Halloween candy but fill up on a healthy nutritious meal first. This will give them less temptation to overdo their candy consumption. This is a good dental hygiene tip for all year and not just Halloween time.

So there you have it, a few easy dental hygiene tricks to allow you and your family to fully enjoy the Halloween time. Candy is not necessarily the enemy, the enemy is not maintaining a diligent dental hygiene regimen. As always visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.




As we get older, we need tokeep track of our bodies far differently than when we were younger. This includes our dental hygiene. Prescription medications can have a big effect on dental health. They can lead to dry mouth which can lead to increased tooth decay. Below you will find some great dental hygiene tips to navigate through the senior years.

Common Dental Issues For Seniors

Certain dental health problems are more common in seniors, they include the following:

1) Tooth Decay. Cavities are caused by plaque bacteria which breakdown the enamel and cause holes in the teeth. Soft diet, dry mouth, limited dexterity, a large number of crowns and fillings to clean around, and high sugars or acids in your diet will increase your chances of decay.

2) Periodontal Disease. Seniors are at an increased risk of periodontal disease. This occurs when plaque builds up beneath your gum line causing inflammation of the tissues and eventually bone loss if allowed to progress. Certain medications cause the gums to swell and bleed and make it more difficult to remove plaque. This may cause gum recession and periodontal disease.

3) Root Cavities. The roots of the teeth can also decay. Once gums recede, the unprotected root surface is very easy for the plaque bacteria to attack. With no enamel to protect it, the cavity can progress rapidly to the nerve of the tooth.

4) Tooth Sensitivity. As we get older, our gums may recede, exposing root surfaces. The roots have nerve endings close to the surface which can become increasingly sensitive to hot, cold, brushing, and sweets. If you experience sensitivity, try a sensitivity toothpaste (like Colgate Sensitive Pro-Health) . If the problem persists, see your dentist, as the sensitivity may be an indication of a more serious condition, such as a cavity or a cracked or fractured tooth.

5) Dry mouth or Xerostomia. Dry mouth is a common condition in the senior population and one that may be caused by medications or certain medical disorders (like radiation therapy for cancer). If this condition is left untreated, it can cause damage to your teeth. Dry mouth occurs when there is reduced salivary flow. Plaque tends to build up when the mouth is dry, putting you at an increased risk for cavities. Your dentist can recommend multiple methods to restore moisture in your mouth, as well as treatments or medications to help prevent the development of cavities. Two products I recommend are Biotene and Listerine Zero.

6) Denture Issues. Many older people wear dentures. If they are not properly cared for, they can cause dental health problems, especially fungal infections such as yeast. A sign of a yeast infection is bright red irritated tissue, itchiness, burning, or a white creamy build up on oral tissues or denture. Just because you have dentures does not mean you do not need a dental examination. You should have an annual check of your denture fit, oral tissues, and oral cancer screening. As well as a jaw x-ray every five years to detect growth or changes in the bone.

Senior Dental Hygiene Tips

-Maintain Regular Brushing. The recommended time to brush is at least 2 minutes. For many of us, we never reach the 2 minute mark at any of our tooth brushing sessions. If you feel like you are having trouble keeping to 2 minute deadline think about the use of a timer or an electric toothbrush that shuts off after 2 minutes of use.

-Use A Plaque Disclosing Solution. This solution allows the patient to see visually if they left any plaque behind and work on areas they are missing. It is a great tool and easy to visualize the areas you need improvement on.

-Maintain Regular Dental Visits. This goes for the old and the young. Maintaining regular dental visits can catch small problems before they become bigger issues. This will save you time and money and possibly pain down the road.

-Add A Mouthwash Rinse To Your Dental Hygiene Protocol. It is a good idea to use an oral rinse that does not contain alcohol. As we get older, our teeth can become sensitive, alcohol rinses can be uncomfortable to use for those with sensitive teeth.

-Floss Daily. Flossing your teeth can help prevent plaque from building up between teeth. Flossing should be done at least once a day. We also recommend the use of floss mate. A variety of companies (Butler GUM floss mate or REACH access flosser), make these products and are easily found at the local drug store. These products work well in patients with minimal or reduced dexterity.

-Quite Smoking.  In addition to increasing your risk of many systemic diseases, smoking can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. There are a variety of methods available to quit to make it as painless a possible.

Conclusion

There are many health challenges to deal with as we age, but maintaining good oral hygiene and monitoring to your dental health can keep your smile sparkling for many years to come.




We generally do not make smart, healthy choices when snacking. Snacking usually occurs at a moment of weakness between meals at a moment of hunger between meals. This often means choosing a sugary snack which can have harmful effects on our dental health. Sugary snacks may taste great and be filling at the moment, but they are poor choices for our dental health and our overall health. Not only will the sugar lead to tooth decay, but it will effect our health negatively in other ways as well. Sugar causes you to “carb crash”, making you feel tired after the sugar high wears off, makes your body need to over produce insulin, dries your mouth out, and can allow us to gain significant amounts of weight if we are not careful. Smart choices are the key if you are to snack between meals.

How Sugars Attack Our Teeth

Our mouths are filled with natural bacteria that reside there all the time. The introduction of sugary and starchy foods into the mouth allows these bacteria to have a source of food. The byproduct of this feeding is the creation of an acidic environment in the mouth. The acids produced are powerful enough to break down the enamel (outer shell of our teeth) on our teeth. This breakdown of enamel is how tooth decay begins. If you simply choose to eat healthy foods, then your chances of exposure to these acids is reduced.

Smart Snacking

The key is to make smart choices when snacking. Before you grab for a snack, check what is in the food you have chosen. Is it chock full of sugar? If it is, think twice. Another choice would be better for your teeth. And it is important to remember that certain kinds of sweets are more harmful than others. Sweets that are chewy or gooey tend to spend more time sticking to the surface of your teeth. Because sticky snacks stay in your mouth longer than foods that you quickly chew and swallow, they increase the chance for the development of tooth decay.

The time of day that you snack is important also. Do you choose to nibble on sugary snacks at various points of the day, or do you usually just choose a small dessert following dinner? Damaging acids will form in your mouth every time you choose to eat a sugar filled snack. The acids continue to affect your teeth for at least 20 minutes before they are neutralized and can’t do any more harm. So, the more times you eat sugary snacks during the day, the more often you feed bacteria the fuel they need to cause tooth decay.

If you eat sweets, it’s best to eat them as dessert after a main meal instead of several times a day between meals. Whenever you eat sweets — in any meal or snack — brush your teeth well with a fluoride toothpaste afterward. Practice good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing following snacking will go along way towards helping reduce our risk for tooth decay.

Best Snacks For Good Dental Health

-Fresh fruits and raw vegetables. The fruits can include oranges, tangerines, pineapple, melons, and pears. While the vegetables can include broccoli, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, and carrots.

Whole Grains. This can include whole wheat, rye, pumpernickel bagels, baked tortilla chips, pretzels, plain bagels, wheat crackers with cheese, and even some unsweetened cereals.

-Milk and dairy products. This includes milk, cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese.

-Meat, nuts and seeds. This can include fresh turkey, deli meats (like Ham and Roast Beef), sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and other unsweetened nuts.

Tips To Make Snacking Healthy

-Choose sugary foods less often

-Avoid sugary sweets between meals

-Timing Is Key. Avoid sweets between meals. If you do choose to snack between meals get in the habit of brushing and flossing following snacking to keep the acids  to a minimum

-Eat a variety of low or non-fat foods from the basic food groups

-Drink plenty of water during and after snacking

-Maintain Good Dental Hygiene. Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after snacks and meals

Conclusion

Our dental health and overall health are intertwined. Making smart choices can have a positive effect on both our teeth and our bodies. Choose wisely and maintain good dental hygiene by seeing your dentist regularly to avoid issues of tooth decay and to maintain a happy, healthy smile for years to come.