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

How does Xylitol Work for Better Dental Hygiene?

There have been numerous 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 of the same properties as 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.

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.

Xylitol Conclusion

Xylitol can help maintain a healthy oral environment, but does not replace dental hygiene!

Xylitol can be an excellent adjunct 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.

Maintaining our oral health can be challenging at times. We all live busy schedules but research has shown that good oral health can lead to good overall health. Below are some tips to help embrace your oral health today!

Top Oral Health Tips

-Brush at least twice a day and floss daily before bedtime. Periodontal disease and tooth decay are major issues as we get older. Almost 75% of all teenagers have gums that bleed. This is one of the first signs of the development of periodontal disease. In its earliest form (gingivitis), the damage is reversible so it is best to catch it early. Other brushing tips include:

-Change your toothbrush at least every 6 months.

-Teenagers with braces may need to use special toothbrushes and other oral hygiene tools to brush their teeth.

-Older people with arthritis or other problems may have trouble holding a toothbrush or using floss. Some people find it easier to use an electric toothbrush.

-Become A Gum Chewer. Chewing sugar free gum (or gum with xylitol) after a meal can also protect by increasing saliva flow, which naturally washes bacteria away and neutralizes acid.

-Do Not Smoke (Or Use Smokeless Tobacco). Not only will using tobacco products stain your teeth but their use will significantly increase the risk of periodontal disease and oral cancer.

-Eat A Well Balanced Diet. No matter your age, a healthy, well balanced diet is essential to healthy teeth and gums. A well-balanced diet of whole foods (this includes whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and cheeses) will provide all the nutrients you need. Research has also shown consuming more fish (omega-3 fats) may actually reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease. It is believed the omega-3 fats will lower inlfammation in the body including the gum tissues.

-Avoid Sugary Foods. When bacteria in the mouth break down simple sugars, they produce acids that can erode your tooth’s enamel, opening the door to tooth decay. Sugary drinks, including colas and fruit drinks, pose a special threat because people tend to sip them, raising acid levels over a long period of time. Sticky candies (like gummy bears and fruit roll ups) are another culprit, because they linger on teeth surfaces.

-Play Smart. Sports help maintain our body and mind health, but they can pose a major threat to teeth. Most school teams now require children to wear mouth guards. But remember: unsupervised recreational activities like skateboarding and roller blading can also result in injuries. An over the counter mouthguard can help soften the blow from theses traumatic injuries. A custom made sports mouthguard made by your dentist can be even more effective as research has shown a well fitted mouthguard can actually help reduce incidence of concussions.

-Maintain A Regular Appointment Schedule. It is recommended to have a dental examination every 6 months — more often if you have problems like periodontal disease. During a routine exam, your dentist or dental hygienist will:

-Check For Tooth Decay.

-Remove plaque and tartar that cannot be brushed or flossed away.

-Check For Early Signs Of Oral Cancer. Most cases of oral cancer can be treated if found early enough. Undetected, oral cancer can spread to other parts of the body and become harder to treat. Once oral cancer progresses it becomes very very difficult to effectively treat.

-Wear and tear from tooth grinding (also called bruxism). Teeth grinding may be caused by stress or anxiety. Over time, it can wear down the biting surfaces of teeth, making them more susceptible to tooth decay. If your teeth show signs of bruxism, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard worn at night to prevent grinding.

-Signs of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease (also called gingivitis or periodontitis) is the leading cause of tooth loss. Unfortunately, by the time most people notice any of the warning signs of periodontitis, it’s too late to reverse the damage.

-Interactions with medications. Older patients, especially those on multiple medications, are at risk of dry mouth, or xerostomia. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of tooth decay and gum problems. As many as 800 different drugs cause dry mouth as a side effect. Always tell your dentist about any medications you take. A change in prescriptions may help lessen the problem. Saliva like oral mouthwashes are also available.

-Get Children Started Early. 1 in 4 young children develops signs of tooth decay before they start school. Half of all children between the ages of 12 and 15 have tooth decay. Dental care should begin as soon as a child’s first tooth appears, usually around six months.

Oral Health Conclusion

Maintaining good oral health should become a habit from an early age. The earlier we get into the routine the easier it will be to stay healthy throughout our lives.

Halloween is a fun time but also one of apprehension on the part of most parents. We always worry about our kids, but at certain times of the year, the worries become more pronounced. For parents, the worry at Halloween time, is the amount of candy their kids consume. This is due to a variety of reasons, behavior, weight gain, but especially their dental health. We all know by now eating lots of sugar and candy can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay. So what are some fun alternatives to that sugary, gooey candy that causes so many problems?

Top 10 Candy Alternatives

1. Sugar free xylitol gum. This is a great alternative to candy as it promotes dental health.  The chewing action of the gum actually promotes salivary flow which lessens the amount of time the sugars stay in the mouth thereby lowering the risk factors for tooth decay. This is also recommended as a tool after your kids indulge in candy to keep their mouths clean between brushing.

2. Halloween Stickers. Kids love stickers especially Halloween ones. The spookier and scarier the better and kids love them. You can even hand these out at the door to the neighborhood kids.

3. Vampire Teeth, spider rings. Go for the glow in the dark ones. Always a hit even with older kids.

4. Temporary Halloween Tattoos. If you go this route make sure you buy some that are for all ages and not just the cute bats and pumpkins. The older kids will want scary tattoos that look more mature.

5. Pretzels, potato chips & popcorn. There are many fun sized bags of these snacks available, a great choice and kids love them.

6. Pencils with Halloween erasers.

7. Silly String. Kids and adults love silly string.

8. Bubbles.

9. Halloween glow necklaces and bracelets. Fun and great for safety as you walk through the neighborhood!

10. Halloween Balloons.

Tips for Good Oral Health at Halloween and everyday!

-Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste

-Floss at least once a day. Some kids have trouble flossing the old fashioned way so there are kid friendly alternatives like flossers.

-Visit your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.

Hope Everyone has a Safe and Happy Halloween!!

As summer gets underway, the oppressive heat can wreak havoc on our dental health. Dry climates and extreme heat can damage your teeth and surrounding tissues. High humidity causes excessive sweating and loss of hydration, also damaging oral tissues. Below are a list of some simple tips to keep you and your family healthy while having fun this summer.

Summertime Oral Care Tips

-Keep Hydrated. This helps stave off tooth decay and also protects your skin (lips) and gum tissues. Drink lots of water and stay away from sugary drinks. Lemonade is a summer favorite, but citric acid + sugar + dry mouth = tooth decay. Sucking on hard candies that are artificially sweetened or chewing on sugar-free gum (preferably xylitol) is ideal to help promote the production of saliva which can prevent tooth decay.

-Use Protection. Summer heat can cause dry, chapped lips. It is important to protect your lips with lip balm or lip gloss. Use products that provide moisture and SPF protection. It will also ward off possible skin cancer. Your lips are more susceptible to burning than most parts of your body, yet many people don’t even consider protecting them from the sun. Damage to the lips over an extended period of time can lead to skin cancer. Use a lip balm or lip gloss with an SPF of at least 15.

-Snack Wisely. A popular summer snack is fresh fruit. It is important to choose the right fruits to help your teeth. Watermelon is an excellent choice as it helps clean your mouth due to its high water content. On the other hand, citrus fruits are highly acidic and can cause tooth enamel erosion. If you choose citrus fruits, brush and rinse often to keep the acid from harming your teeth. Stay away from fruit gummies and roll ups as they will stick between the teeth and stay longer in a dry mouth causing in-between the teeth cavities.

-Humidify Your Home. To prevent our mouth and skin from drying out use a humidifier filled with distilled water. This will keep your lips from chapping and your mouth from drying out.

-Protect Your Teeth. Summertime includes playing outdoor sports. It is important to use a mouthguard for proper protection. Mouthguards are fairly inexpensive and can protect your teeth as well as your lips, cheeks, and gums. Wearing a mouthguard will also prevent grinding of teeth during play.

-Swim Wisely. Excessive swimming in a pool can erode and weaken our teeth. This is due to the high content of chlorine in most pools. On the other hand swimming in the ocean, can actually help decrease the oral bacteria. This is due to the oceans salt water content. If you choose swimming in a pool, remember to brush following swimming to limit damage from the pool’s chemicals.

-Pack healthy picnics/lunches. Try to limit sweets when you will be outdoors for an extended time. Chips are better than cookies, water is better than juice which is better than soda pop. Increase protein and decrease white carbohydrates. White carbs are broken down into sugars in the mouth immediately and can begin to break down enamel.

-Don’t Forget Breakfast. We tend to be a bit relaxed in the summer, but breakfast remains the most important meal of the day. When we skip breakfast we tend to snack on more unhealthy items throughout the morning. If you start with a healthy breakfast, and brush after, you won’t be tempted to cheat.

Summertime Smile Conclusion

Summertime presents its own challenges in maintenance of your smile. Understanding the above information can help you make good choices to help yourself and your family to get through summer cavity free. The above tips will help you to maintain your dental health while having a fun summer and continue your excellent dental health throughout the year.