Parents don’t like to talk about their kids’ cavities, so it’s easy to feel like the only one that sees the business end of the dentists’ drill.
However, cavities are far more common than any parent likes to admit. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 1 out of every 4 kids under the age of 11 in America have untreated dental caries in their permanent teeth right now.
You’ve heard and tried all the other stuff: brushing, flossing, mouthwash, even expensive toothpastes with unpronounceable chemical ingredients, but you still find yourself back in the dentist’s office, trying to convince your kids not to scream when the drill comes on.
But the key to better dental health lies in this one little-known fact: one nasty strain of bacteria in your mouth is one of the leading causes of tooth decay.
This repulsive little guy is Streptococcus mutans, which lives in your mouth and eats the extra carbohydrates that cling to your teeth after you eat. They also produce acid, which eats away at your enamel and causes permanent damage to teeth.
Visiting the dentist or brushing your teeth helps evict them for a while, but after brushing, this bacteria vacations on your toothbrush head and bristles, just waiting until the next time you brush to move back in.
Antiseptic mouthwashes will kill Streptococcus, but they also wreak havoc on the friendly mouth bacteria that are vital for good dental health. Not to mention that the alcohol found in most antiseptic mouthwashes is a kind of sugar, which your mouth digests to acid, which is exactly the thing we’re trying to get rid of.
So, How Do We Keep These Nasty Invaders Out of Our Mouths?
Enter Xylitol. Xylitol is an organic substance produced naturally by plants. It’s sweet in taste, but is considered a healthy alternative to sugar, as it contains 40% fewer calories than regular sugar. Xylitol has been proven to specifically target and destroy cavity-causing bacteria, all while leaving other friendly bacteria unharmed and happy.
In fact, Xylitol is so effective that the American Association of Pediatric Dentists recommends it for all kids.
While Xylitol can be found in trace amounts in a wide variety of products, the best evidence shows that it’s only truly effective in combating tooth decay when consumed in larger amounts on a regular basis. The best way to do so is in the form of Xylitol chewing gum, breath mints, or toothpaste. After all, how hard is it to convince even the fussiest of kids to chew a piece of gum every day?
Look for brands like Epic Dental that use only Xylitol, rather than a cocktail of chemical and artificial sweeteners. They can be difficult to find in your typical grocery store checkout line, but are common in health and natural food stores and online retailers like Amazon.com.