Brush Your Teeth with Sugar
Xylitol is the sugar I’m talking about. I believe xylitol is about to replace fluoride as the greatest anti-cavity discovery of the 21st century. Xylitol is a natural sugar. It can be safely used by diabetics (with their physician’s approval). It does not raise the glycemic index and has none of the cavity causing properties of table sugar but it’s just as sweet and comes in a variety of convenient forms, including chewing gum, lollipops, and candies. It occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and is produced by the human body as well. Cavity causing bacteria love regular sugar and metabolize it to form acids which destroy our teeth. They also love xylitol, but unfortunately for them, they can’t metabolize it so they’re essentially starved to death. Studies have shown that 5 to 10 grams of xylitol daily can reduce cavity causing bacteria 95% after 6 months. Not only can xylitol stop tooth decay in its tracks, but it can also promote remineralization, essentially the regrowth of new enamel! Tooth decay is the end result of infection. Fixing cavities, without destroying the bacteria responsible for the infection in the first place, is a no win situation. Dentistry’s first commandment, THOU SHALL NOT EAT SUGAR, is happily violated with impunity by almost everyone.
80% of U.S. teenagers have tooth decay. In Finland, however, where xylitol is distributed in schools, 80% of high school graduates have no cavities! In Belize, the Ministry of health reports a 50% reduction in tooth decay in school children using xylitol. And, 5 years after this study, tooth decay still had not resurfaced, suggesting that xylitol has a very long-lasting effect. It has been scientifically documented that mothers can transmit the cavity causing bacteria in their own mouth to their child through every day contact. Again, studies show that Mom’s use of xylitol can protect the child from her cavity causing germs. Dr. Catherine Hayes from the Harvard school of Dental Medicine published a review extolling the positive effects of xylitol and stated, “It would be unethical to deprive subjects of its potential benefits”. The editor of Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology states: “The evidence is strong enough to support the regular use of xylitol as a way to prevent cavities”.
Look for products that have at least 1 gram of xylitol. Aim for 5 separate exposures throughout the day. Chew the gum, or suck the lollipop for a minimum of 5 minutes for maximum benefit. You can even buy granular xylitol by the bag for about $8 a pound. A quarter teaspoon swished in the mouth for 2 minutes should do the trick. You can spit it out or swallow it. Benefits plateau at about 10 grams a day. For more information, here are some leading websites: www.xlear.com , the makers of Spry xylitol products , www.carriefree.com who package a xylitol-based anti-cavity program for kids and adults. It’s especially helpful for older adults who suffer from dry mouth syndrome. And finally, www.drjohns.com, a company carrying a variety of xylitol chocolates and candies.
By now, most of my patients are aware that I’m a strong believer in natural remedies to stay healthy. And even though I’ve used fluoride in my practice for years, and it does work to reduce tooth decay, I’ve never been completely comfortable with this approach . Xylitol, on the other hand, is natural and safe for everyone, even infants. And here’s the best part, you don’t need to change your eating habits. You may continue violating “dentistry’s first commandment”! Just commit your sin with xylitol.
Stay well…Dr Bill Ardito – Sunshine Dentistry AZ
855 W. Bell Road, Suite 600
Nogales, AZ 85621
July 2011, article published in the Nogales International