One of the most common questions dentists are asked by parents is what to do to keep teeth and gums healthy.
This question relates widely to caries prevention. People with physical and mental disabilities are at high risk for dental diseases. The most common oral and dental diseases among the disabled are bleeding of the gums, caries, bad breath, difficulty swallowing and problems with production of saliva. They may experience difficulty brushing, rinsing and flossing teeth. Of course, every parent wants their child to use the best, safest and most effective preventative measures. The debate on the subject is not possible without considering the excellent caries prevention tool that is xylitol.
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a natural sugar found in fruit and vegetables and produced in large quantities from birch wood and corn. Our body produces 5–15 g of xylitol daily (as carbohydrates are broken down by the liver). As such, the human body is well acquainted with the substance and knows exactly how to react. Xylitol looks almost like ordinary sugar. It is white and crystalline with a sugary taste. Xylitol is used as a sweetener in medicinal products, chewing gums and pastilles. Xylitol has been used for decades, and it is particularly popular in Finland. According to years of studies conducted by Finnish researchers, replacing sugar with xylitol improves dental health by 30–85%.
Dental benefits of xylitol
Xylitol protects against caries development. Xylitol inhibits the metabolism of Streptococcus mutans bacteria, hinders the growth of all caries-associated bacterial strains and reduces their levels in the oral microflora. People who have difficulty chewing and swallowing generally eat puree-like soft and sticky foods. Such foods stick to the teeth and promote the rapid formation of dental plaque. In addition, the sick who require systemic treatment drink less water than healthy people, which results in a lessened cleansing effect from water. Xylitol, however, can help protect the teeth from acidity caused by carbohydrate consumption, which dissolves minerals in tooth enamel. Xylitol is like a guardian angel for those with a sweet tooth. Xylitol allows you to enjoy your favourite treats without having to fear for the health of your teeth.
As saliva, which is alkaline, covers the teeth, it neutralizes acids that are damaging to tooth enamel. Saliva also contains useful minerals, which are then passed on to the enamel, such as calcium, fluorine and phosphorus. However, in some disabled people who suffer from lip, cheek and tongue muscle coordination disorders, the protection function of saliva is lost. This primarily concerns those who have been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy. Sedative preparations administered as a tranquilizer or with the purpose of regulating muscle coordination and allergic reaction may reduce the production of saliva. This increases the occurrence of gum diseases and dental caries. Regular consumption of xylitol after meals increases salivary secretion, enhances the protective function of saliva, which in turn results in increased mineralization of tooth enamel, and boosts the hydration of the oral mucosa (which is particularly important for those suffering from dryness in the mouth – xerostomia).
Recent studies show that xylitol has the ability to actively fight off fungi (Candida albicans – a fungus that feeds on sugar in the body). Replacing sugar with xylitol helps reduce the spread of Candida and thus decreases the risk of candidiasis.
Since the mouth and middle ear are connected, xylitol also has a positive effect on the ears, reducing the effect of harmful bacteria and promoting salivation.
Xylitol is most effective when used after every meal. The longer the teeth are in contact with xylitol, the better. Frenzy pastilles are held in the mouth. The pastilles have a xylitol content of up to 100%. The recommended amount is 7–10 grams of xylitol per day. The use of xylitol in caries prevention has been shown to have the greatest and most lasting effect when administered to children from 6 to 36 months of age, which is when the microflora of the oral cavity is still developing. Frenzy xylitol pastilles are easy to cut into smaller pieces or ground into powder for your child. Frenzy natural berry flavoured all-xylitol pastilles weigh 6 grams (10 pcs), which makes the effective dose for caries prevention 2–3 pastilles 3–5 times per day. Xylitol tolerance also increases in the course of regular use. Characteristic side effects of most natural sweeteners belonging to the same class as xylitol include a mild laxative effect.
With delicious Frenzy pastilles you can be sure that you are using the best alternative to sugar while keeping your teeth healthy and strong.