Dental Guides

Could Protecting My Teeth Be As Easy As Chewing Gum or Sucking on a Mint? Tips from Dentists In Scottsdale

Tips that can help protect your teeth when you are away from your floss and toothbrush are always helpful.  Life can be hectic and it is easy to place oral health on the back burner.  Hate to burst your bubble, but ignoring your teeth isn’t an option.  You must invest in oral care, and this information will make it easier. Now, part of your healthy oral habits can be as easy as chewing the correct type of gum or sucking on a mint. 

There is a lot of emphasis being placed on pediatric dentistry by parents and dentist alike, because so much of providing teeth with optimal oral care is preemptive and is best achieved through healthy daily habits; habits that are best learned at an early age.  These tips below are great for parents and kids, and will help with oral health whether you stop for lunch before going grocery shopping in rainy Seattle, or have a picnic while spending a day in the park in sunny Scottsdale.

Tips from Pediatric Dentists that Will Benefit Mouths Young and Old, Scottsdale, AZ 

The main tip that we are going to share with you today has to do with the ingredient of Xylitol.  Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar that is found in some vegetables and fruits.  Recent studies have found it to be helpful in preventing tooth decay.  Xylitol can be found in some chewing gums and mints, and when used timely and correctly it can help protect your teeth from bacteria.  Here is how it works. 

The bacteria, mostly responsible for tooth decay, are called streptococcus mutans.  We are not born with these particular bacteria in our bodies; they are usually transferred to us through our primary caregiver.  When a caregiver licks a spoon or shares a straw with a baby or child, these streptococcus mutans are passed on (this is one of the reasons why having healthy oral habits is important not just for children, when they are in their pediatric dentist phase, but for their caregivers and adults as well.)  By lowering the bacterial count in your mouth, you lessen the chance of passing it on to your children.

These streptococcus mutans have a sticky structure.  They cling to our teeth and wait for nutrients such as sugar to come by, so that they can continue to thrive in our mouths; this is where the Xylitol comes in.  When Xylitol is introduced into our mouths, the bacterium recognizes it as sugar but, they cannot metabolize the Xylitol so they die.  Xylitol offers yet another benefit to our teeth, it causes the bacteria to lose its ability to stick to the tooth structure.

Where can I find gum and mints that have Xylitol and how often should I use them?

Xylitol is starting to become a little bit of a buzz word, so you have to be careful as a consumer to make sure that you are using the right kind.  Sometimes gum producers mix Xylitol with other sugars, this makes it much less effective.  When looking at the ingredients make sure that it is 100% Xylitol and that no other sweeteners have been added.  One popular gum and mint brand with 100% Xylitol is SPRY, and can be found at general health stores like: Whole Foods, Sprouts and Trader Joes. 

Four to five exposures to Xylitol a day is sufficient, so after meals and before bed time and is most effective when chewed for 5 minutes.  One side effect of too much Xylitol is slight gastrointestinal upset so limiting your intake to 4-5 times a day is suggested. 

Adding chewing gum or mints that have Xylitol in its ingredients to your daily habits can help you take care of your and your kids’ teeth when you are out and about.  Whether your kid is in the care of a pediatric dentist or has moved out of the pediatric dentistry range and into adolescence, it is never too late to start investing in preventative measures to protect your teeth, especially when it is as easy as chewing gum or having a mint.

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Stephanie Drescher is a professional blogger for Affiliated Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics the practice that establishes a “dental home” for all of our patients and parents.  APDO prides itself in exceptional service and pediatric dental care for each and every patient.  APDO genuinely love children and have great empathy for their dental needs.  For more information follow APDO on Facebook.  

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