Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why you should use xylitol...

Looking for strong, healthy teeth?
There is a lot of confusion and a lot of angst when it comes to how to best care for our teeth. Most parents are advised to either breastfeed (because breastmilk is low in fluoride, see HERE) or to prepare formula using nursery water which is not fluoridated because of the risk of staining and pitting of the enamel which is know as fluorosis (see HERE). The American Dental Association does not recommend avoiding fluoride, we do. There are some claims of serious health effects (see HERE) that you should weigh for yourself but the fact that the national standard maximum level of flouride has been lowered (see HERE) really convinces my husband and I that we need to limit our children's exposure. This was probably helped by the fact that a few of our kids have mild flourosis. This does not mean that we leave the children's teeth unprotected, it just means that we do it differently.

We follow the teachings of Weston A Price regarding diet to protect the teeth, which are briefly outlined HERE, but the biggest protection that we provide our children is by using xylitol. It is clinically proven to reduce cavities in children when combined with fluoride than the fluoride toothpaste alone (see HERE) but also when used alone in chewing gum and gummy bears and the protection is passed on to the newborns. That is some pretty powerful stuff! According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children are benefited by consuming several small doses totally 5-8 grams over the course of the day (see HERE) whether it is in the form of losanges, gums or syrups. Xylitol has a glycemic index of 13 (see HERE) and American studies indicate that is is appropriate for diabetics and others trying to keep a tight lid on the glucose and insulin levels (see HERE) Remember that even if it is good for your kids and for you, it is highly toxic for your dog. If you have a pet dog, you should familiarize yourself with signs of exposure and be sure that you know how to handle the emergency. Hat Tip to reader Katie for providing some great information which can be found HERE.

If you try baking with it, remember that in high doses it can have a laxative effect (see HERE) and it is best to start small and build up. Remember that a little goes a long way! You can try these recipes here at Elena's Pantry. As a caveat, I will tell you that The Healthy Home Economist is not a fan of it (see HERE), and you might want to read what she has to say. Organic brands are available which mitigate the issue of GMO corn, in case you are worried. I will also tell you, that clearly, Sarah is very careful about what she does and does not serve her family, and I think that is great, but she and I are not always on the same page. I am a big believer in both doing what we can and not making the perfect the enemy of the good. In a perfect world, my children would not need xylitol for dental health, but this is not a perfect world. I am going to do what is good for them.

As for brushing, start when teeth starting making their appearance. Offer them the brush to play with, let them watch you brush, and start brushing regularly before bed by the time they are one year old. For the children, we use the Jack n' Jill brand in whatever flavor is the cheapest at the time. Just for your information, my kids prefer the banana flavor to pretty much anything else on earth. Also, remember that babies bite, and if you use a finger toothbrush, they will bite you. Biting hurts. Let's not do that. The one below is the one that we actually use because it is silicon and BPA free and brushes three sides a time. For the older children and the parents, we use whichever Tom's of Maine Fluoride Free is on sale. For those who are interested in recycling their Tom's packaging, check out my TerraCycle post HERE.


  1. We had that toothbrush for my son. He used it as a teether. It was the only teether he ever liked.

    1. That is so funny! Claudia loves it and it really helped with her teeth. I think more people should try that!

  2. M Jones4/24/2014

    Any family that uses xylitol should be aware of the danger it poses to dogs (and cats). Xylitol in small doses will cause dangerously low blood sugar levels, leading to seizures, coma, and long term liver damage. A normal stick of chewing gum with xylitol in it is sufficient to poison a 10lb dog and may lead to death. It is tasty, like antifreeze, and dogs will seek items out to eat them.

    I am not trying to scare anyone, just raise awareness that this safe and effective product is NOT safe for our pets. Speaking as a member of the veterinary profession, it is heartbreaking to see someone's dog dying because he got into a pack of gum. Please keep items with xylitol in them out of reach of your animals.

    1. I did not focus on that enough in the post and it was picked up on by a reader on Facebook. I edited to include addition information including a link. Is there more info you want to provide as a professional? I would love to include it!

  3. In what form are you using it? Gum?


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