Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Healthy teeth and gums with xylitol

From "The Times" today: (by Helen Rumbelow, published November 21 2012).

"In Scandinavia, where xylitol was first championed because of the ready access to birch trees, children are regularly given free xylitol sweets in schools and nurseries.

And do they have better teeth?

“Oh yes, they tend to.”

Next I talk to Aubrey Sheiham, emeritus professor of dental public health at University College London.

“Flossing is almost completely useless, it doesn’t stop tooth decay,” he says, adding that he has “slides of bacteria waving as the floss goes past”.

“It is still useful for stopping gum disease, but you have to be meticulous — it’s time-consuming.”

On the other hand, he, like so many at the forefront of preventative dentistry, “would advise people to use xylitol. I have some xylitol mints in my desk drawer. If you look at the evidence it is overwhelming that xylitol works. If a child gets it a couple of times a day, they will get less decay.”

By the end of the month, I go back to the hygienist. I wait, open-mouthed, for the result. She says that she cannot find a single speck of plaque on my teeth or beneath the gum line, no bleeding, inflammation, nothing.

She dramatically puts down her tools, saying there is simply no point her trying to do anything to such a perfectly clean mouth (this, needless to say, has never happened to me before). I immediately resolve to stick with the programme, find creative new uses for my packs of floss and, what’s more, begin to dole out xylitol sweets to my delighted children after meals. Oh, and take whatever bunkum my dentist tells me about prevention with a big spoonful of sugar.

Keep decay at bay: your daily guide

1 Neutralise the mouth: Ultradex. Using a pre-rinse means you don’t brush on teeth softened by acidic food. Ultradex contains chlorine dioxide, which has been proven to remove bacteria.

2 After brushing teeth: Listerine Original. The Original version has the best results in clinical trials. This has provoked controversy because of a potential link between mouthwashes containing alcohol and oral cancer, but the American Dental Association has declared that there is no evidence to support this fear.

3 Final fluoride rinse: Fluorigard or similar Fluoride rinses are proven to help strengthen and repair teeth, especially if used last thing at night.

4 Look for 100 per cent xylitol. Sweets such as Smints and many popular gums that contain xylitol are not suitable, as their xylitol content is diluted by other sweeteners. Only Peppersmith makes mints and gum sweetened with pure xylitol on the UK high street, but you can find lots of alternatives on the internet. (Peppersmith peppermint chewing gum, £1.42, "

So this morning I ordered this product from Amazon. Not least because: "When xylitol gum pellets were given to Finnish children in daycare centres after meals, scientists discovered that it also significantly lowered their incidence of ear infection."