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While cavities are, unfortunately, a common oral health issue found in children, they can be quite painful. And if your child is particularly susceptible to cavities—despite regular dental visits and thorough dental hygiene routines—you may be willing to try just about anything to keep their teeth healthy. However, you probably never guessed that chewing certain types of gum—specifically, gum with xylitol—could be your solution.

What is Xylitol?

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, xylitol can successfully reduce childhood tooth decay. According to their findings, having 4-20 grams of xylitol every day (divided into at least three servings) can reduce cavities by up to 70%. This substance is naturally found in certain fruits and vegetables such as mushrooms, berries, corn, lettuces, and more. However, just one cup of berries only contains about one gram of xylitol. Therefore, it is very difficult to consume enough natural xylitol-containing foods for it to be effective in preventing decay. This is where xylitol gum can help. Chewing gum with added xylitol can be incredibly effective in preventing tooth decay. By increasing your child’s xylitol intake, other cavity-reduction efforts can be enhanced.

How Xylitol Works

When your child consumes sugars and carbohydrates, the bacteria in their mouths metabolize it and, in turn, release acids on their teeth. These harmful acids lead to decay and cavities. Xylitol helps to minimize this threat and reduce the destruction caused by bacteria. To do so, xylitol increases your child’s saliva production. Saliva is important for naturally remineralizing your teeth and fortifying them against harmful acids that otherwise break down—or demineralize—your dental enamel. Therefore, xylitol helps to protect your teeth from decay.

How to Start Using Xylitol

There are a number of kid-friendly chewing gum brands with xylitol, as well as xylitol lollipops and other substitutes. Very young children and infants should not chew gum at an early age, though pregnant mothers who chew xylitol gum several times a day can actually pass this benefit on to their children! Older children, however, can very much benefit from this cavity-preventing chewing gum.

According to the American Dental Association, your child should have their first dentist appointment by their first birthday. This helps us to ensure your child not only has healthy baby teeth, but is set up to have good oral health for the rest of their lives.

To prevent childhood cavities and other oral health issues, call Downtown Dental in River North or the Loop today to set up an appointment.