Good Sugar? Music to a Mom’s Ears.

by Sandi on March 15, 2010


 I recently ran into some great information which was written by Trisha E. O’Hehir, the Editorial Director of Hygienetown Magazine.  It’s some great information about a natural sugar that your kids will love but actually has a helpful effect on tooth decay.  

Tooth decay is caused by acids that melt the enamel and cause a break in the tooth surface.  This acid is produced by bacteria that digest the sugars and starches we eat.  Bacteria need acid to stick to each other and to tooth surfaces, but this acid causes tooth decay.  There’s a new, natural sugar that doesn’t cause acid, so it actually prevents tooth decay.  

Most sugars and sugar substitutes can be digested by bacteria to make acid.  All except xylitol, which is a natural sugar that comes from fruits, vegetables, and birch bark and is also made in small amounts in the  human body.  Xylitol looks and tastes just like table sugar, with a cool mint finish.  Here’s how it works.  Bacteria take sugar molecules through their cell wall to produce acid.  Xylitol is a smaller size than regular sugar, so it goes through the outer membrane of the bacteria faster.  Bacteria can’t digest it, so they use energy to pump the xylitol molecule outside the membrane. Deriving no energy from the xylitol, the bacteria can’t make acid.  Without acid, the bacteria can’t stick to each other or to your teeth.  Think of it as constipating the bacteria.  They can’t make acid from xylitol, so they simply slide off the teeth and down the throat without causing tooth decay.    

For best results, use xylitol several times during the day to reduce both acid and bacteria.  Enjoy mints, candy or gum after meals and snacks.  Start and end your day with xylitol toothpaste and mouthrinse and wake up the next morning feeling fresh.  Look for products sweetened with only xylitol.   

She does warn that, as with other sugar free products, too much can have a laxative effect.  Xylitol has less effect than other sugar free candies, but still monitor the amount of intake, especially in children.

 Moms want to make as few trips to the dentist as possible.  Here’s one easy way to help your kids care for their teeth better.

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