by Angie Stone, RDH, BS - Xylitol Educator

When babies are born, parents are all about keeping their perfect little bundle of joy healthy and unscathed.  They go to great lengths to ensure their new arrival gets nothing but the best food and care, and they do their best to prevent any illnesses. This of course is exactly how things should be. After all, children are the future. Having healthy kids is the first step to having healthy adults, and a healthy society benefits all people.

Children who are fortunate enough to have this kind of parenting often times grow up fit and strong.  Parents’ guide their children as they grow and teach them to make good choices along the way. Even with the best of intentions, however, there can be challenges sustaining healthy practices as children grow. Parents may not realize that one area in particular that can be difficult to control is dental health.  It is the role of the dental professional to teach parents how to prevent the bacteria in the mouth from causing a caries infection that leads to tooth decay.

Controlling oral bacteria is easier when children utilize products that are 100% sweetened with xylitol. This natural occurring sugar substitute prevents the bacteria that reside in the mouth from being able to create sticky plaque.  Without the ability to create plaque, caries cannot happen.  Parents who provide these kinds of kid's xylitol products to their children, typically experience less tooth decay and gingivitis.  This is great information to share with parents.

Important Even as People Age

At some point in their lives, grown children can end up being the ones who are responsible for the health of their parents, or at least are influential in their care. At that point, oral health is one of the last things considered, but it can be one of the biggest areas that cause illness.

Not only can uncontrolled oral bacteria cause tooth decay, they also can cause periodontal disease. Dental professionals realize a mouth that is infected with periodontal disease can make people more prone to heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. They also understand this infection can be a factor that brings on other illnesses such as aspiration pneumonia, dementia, and arthritis.

Xylitol sweetened products can help control bacteria in the mouths of dependent elders just as it does in children.  A reduction in oral bacteria translates to a healthier mouth and ultimately healthier bodies.

Dental offices see heaps of elders with dry mouth issues; often due to medications they take. This condition makes the likelihood of tooth decay even larger.  In addition to reducing the bacteria that cause decay, xylitol also increases the amount of saliva in the mouth. More saliva helps reduce tooth decay due to the availability of more calcium and phosphate for remineralization. More saliva means a higher pH.  Also, without the bacteria’s ability to create plaque, gum tissues remain healthier and elders are less susceptible to gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Xylitol can be administered in several different ways.  Xylitol gum and xylitol mints are a great way to utilize xylitol. It is recommended the elder have a 100% xylitol sweetened gum/mint 5 times per day.  For those who cannot use gum or mints, xylitol toothpaste, xylitol tooth gel, mouth rinse or moisturizing oral mist can be used instead.