Quiz Time: Xylitol
Xylitol pops up in the news every now and then. It is an additive that takes the place of sugar, making some things (chewing gum, for example) a bit less likely to harm teeth. Your pediatric dentist is always looking for ways to help keep young teeth healthy. Regular checkups and cleanings are one way to help prevent cavities. Helping your child learn proper brushing and flossing techniques is also helpful. And if your child enjoys the treat of chewing gum or candy on occasion, products with xylitol can help keep cavities at bay.
Quiz Questions: True or False?
- True or False: Xylitol comes from the leaves of the xylot plant.
- True or False: Xylitol protects teeth by coating them to seal out tooth decay.
- True or False: Xylitol is not necessary for good oral health. Whether or not to use products with xylitol is a choice you can make as a parent.
- False. You probably guessed this was false, but do you know where xylitol does come from? Medicinal xylitol is primarily extracted from birch wood. Small amounts of xylitol occur naturally in many fruits and some vegetables.
- False. Xylitol helps prevent cavities because the bacteria that naturally occur in the mouth cannot feed off xylitol. Oral bacteria is the source of tooth decay, so when xylitol replaces sugar in a product, bacteria growth is slowed and decay is less likely. There is some evidence that xylitol also promotes the production of saliva in people with dry mouth. Having adequate saliva helps rinse bacteria from tooth surfaces.
- True. While xylitol is not harmful (and can be helpful if your child regularly chews gum or sucks on candy) the choice is up to you, as a parent. If you have questions about xylitol use, please bring them up with us at any appointment.