Can You Do More to Help Your Kids Prevent Cavities?

In your quest to keep your kids’ smiles healthy and beautiful, do you ever feel like you’ve gone to great lengths, only to see them struggle with cavity after cavity? Sadly, some children and adults are more susceptible to dental decay, either due to genetic factors, underlying health concerns, medications being taken, or dietary factors. So while in most cases a healthy diet, daily hygiene and preventive checkups and cleanings can generally help prevent acidic erosion, there is still benefit in seeking other ways to help protect the smile, as well. Dental sealants are one option, which many pediatric dentists offer and even recommend. Fortunately, there may be another “secret weapon” in the fight against cavities, and that is a product called xylitol, which is a natural sugar substitute.

What Is Xylitol?

Many dental associations throughout the country have praised xylitol for its ability to help with cavity prevention. That is because the sugar-free sweetener is a sugar alcohol that unlike most forms of sugar, can actually help protect the teeth from acidic erosion.

This is because the bacteria found in plaque are unable to grow using xylitol, the way they can with sugar and other simple starches. Therefore, xylitol can actually help to transform the bacteria in the mouth, making it more difficult for it to stick to the surface of teeth, where it can create plaque buildup known as tartar, the culprit behind most cavity development.

So, Where Can I Find Xylitol?

Chewing gum and breath mints are some of the most popular vessels for xylitol, though there are other products available, as well. Many can be found at drugstores and vitamin chains.

Just keep in mind that to be most effective at cavity prevention, you should look for products that list xylitol as the lead ingredient. It is also important that your children allow mints to dissolve completely, or that they spend at least five minutes chewing xylitol-including gum.

For more information about cavity prevention, be sure to speak directly with your children’s dentist, who is one of your greatest allies in protecting your kids’ oral health.

filed under: Children's Dental Services, Preventive Treatments