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Friday, November 5, 2021

Sweet Dreams: A Sweetener That Prevents Cavities

Sweet Dreams: A Sweetener That Prevents Cavities

Children love sugar. It’s sweet and present in so many foods they like. But it comes with plenty of negative side effects, from tooth decay to weight gain to increased risk of diabetes. But knowing sugar is bad for children and getting them to stop wanting it are two very different things. Fortunately, sugar substitutes are available. One alternative, xylitol, is not only a sweet solution for a sweet tooth but may help prevent tooth decay.

Unlike the sugars found in molasses, honeys and nectars, xylitol is a “sugar alcohol” found in plants, including many fruits and vegetables. It comes in the form of a crystalline powder and can be purchased in bulk or in small packets, similar to sugar and other sugar substitutes. Xylitol is also found in gum, mints and hard candy.

So why is xylitol preferable to other sugar alternatives? Let’s start with calories. Xylitol actually has 40% fewer calories than traditional table sugar. Because it does not raise blood glucose or insulin levels, xylitol can be useful as a sugar substitute for people with diabetes. (However, they should still consult their physicians before use because some xylitol-based products may contain other chemicals not suitable for a diabetic diet.)

But most surprisingly, xylitol is a sweetener that may help prevent tooth decay.
  • Eating xylitol-sweetened foods between meals helps to reduce the number of cavity-causing bacteria in your child’s mouth.
  • Chewing xylitol gum inhibits the growth of plaque on teeth.
  • Xylitol helps stimulate saliva flow, which helps protect and restore tooth enamel.
One important warning about xylitol, however: It is highly toxic to dogs. If your family owns a dog, make sure your children use and dispose of xylitol products responsibly. Store any products containing xylitol in a place where your dog can’t get to it.

If you have questions or concerns about xylitol and your children’s health, be sure to ask Dr. Jared during their next regularly scheduled checkup at KiDDS Dental.

Call us to schedule an appointment today!  509-891-7070.




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