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Save Your Child's Teeth

Updated on July 25, 2010

A spoonful of sugar may indeed help the medicine go down but it seems that the sugar substitute, xylitol, has medicinal properties of its own. Recent research has shown that a few drops of xylitol, given as a syrup, may help prevent tooth decay in baby teeth.

Xylitol, has been used for years as a ‘safe’ sweetener in chewing gum and some medicines. It was introduced because, unlike sugar, the bacteria in dental plaque cannot use it to produce the acid that causes tooth decay. Now researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have discovered it goes further than that. It seems that xylitol actually kills acid-producing bacteria in the mouth.

This is good news because there is increasing evidence that tooth decay is on the rise amongst young children in the UK, especially in higher-income families. In fact, according to the British Dental Health Foundation, almost fifty per cent of children below the age of five in Britain show signs of tooth decay – even though the causes are well known and decay is easily preventable. This figure is a national average, the numbers being very much lower in areas where drinking water is fluoridated. However, even in fluoridated areas, decay seems to be increasing slowly.

The optimal dose appears to be 4 g of xylitol syrup given twice a day but research is not yet complete. It will, therefore, be a while before xylitol dental syrup is available. When it is, I’ll let you know.

Tom Nolan is a dentist with over 30 years’ experience.

If you found this article useful, you should check out his book

Watch Your Mouth – An Owner’s Manual.

Also available as a download. This book is packed with practical advice and will tell you everything you need to know to keep your mouth healthy, trouble-free and beautiful for the rest of your life.

You can get in touch via Tom's practice: The Dentist in Town


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