Xylitol Can Prevent Cavities in Kids

Pediatric Dentistry for Avon, Connecticut

Xylitol is Found in Many Fruits and Vegetables

Tooth decay is a common but preventable problem among many children in the United States. Studies have shown that xylitol, which can be consumed through food or in many artificial forms, can reduce the risk of tooth decay for kids.

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is equal to sugar in terms of sweetness and volume. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, such as berries, mushrooms, corn, and lettuce. It can be difficult to get kids to eat enough fruits or vegetables, so xylitol is available in other forms. In a granular form, it can be used in many products that normally contain sugar. These include toothpastes, gels, mouthwashes, sprays, gum, syrups, mints, and candies with pleasant tastes that many kids enjoy.

Cavities form when the bacteria Streptococcus mutans in the mouth combines with sugar and carbohydrates in food and forms acid. That acid destroys tooth enamel and leads to tooth decay.

Xylitol prevents the bacteria from growing. Over time, the quality of the bacteria changes, and less survives on the surface of teeth. This results in less acid, less plaque, and less destruction of tooth enamel. Xylitol also encourages the production of saliva, which washes away food particles, plaque, and bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Xylitol has been shown to prevent cavities and remineralize teeth in individuals with moderate to high risk for tooth decay when used in conjunction with a healthy diet, good oral hygiene, fluoride, and regular dental exams. Studies have found that consuming 4 to 20 grams of xylitol per day, divided into three to five servings, can reduce the number of cavities in children by as much as 70 percent. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found xylitol to be safe.

Streptococcus mutans can be passed from parents to newborn babies. This transmission can be significantly reduced if mothers regularly consume xylitol.

Products containing xylitol can be found in health food stores and online. In order for the xylitol to be at a high enough level to prevent tooth decay, it must generally be listed as the first ingredient.

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David Epstein
CT Pediatric Dentist
David Epstein
A.B., D.D.S., M.S.D.

22 Jan 2022 11:41 PM