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  • Corina Ramirez D.D.S.

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Xylitol and Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is the most prevalent disease among children aged between 5 and 17 years. It occurs when bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar in your diet, turning it into acids that erode tooth enamel and cause decay and cavities.

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Tooth decay is largely preventable, but it’s impossible to completely eliminate sugar in your diet. Instead, dental professionals recommend that you reduce your sugar intake and use substitutes like xylitol to maintain a healthy oral environment.

What is xylitol?

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol compound that is equal in sweetness and volume to sugar but without the adverse effects. It is not an artificial sweetener, but a natural carbohydrate obtained from the fibrous parts of berries, vegetables, and other sweet plants.

With its sweetness and granular form, xylitol can be used in many applications of sugar, including sweetening beverages, cereals, sweets, or for baking, except when you need sugar to facilitate yeast expansion.

Using xylitol to prevent cavities
Studies show that xylitol prevents the growth of harmful bacteria – Streptococcus mutans – because they can’t convert xylitol to acid. Over time, the continued presence of xylitol in the mouth reduces the quality and quantity of decay-causing bacteria in tooth enamel. This translates to reduced plaque formation and acid erosion.

One study showed that the regular use of xylitol by mothers reduced the transmission of bacteria to newborn babies, which subsequently resulted in fewer cases of tooth decay.

Xylitol has been approved for safety by different agencies, including the World Health Organization and the US Food and Drug Administration. It has been shown to possess decay-preventative qualities, which is particularly beneficial for people at moderate-to-high risk of decay when used as part of an overall decay reduction strategy that includes good home care, dental visits, and a healthy diet.

How is xylitol found?

Xylitol is most commonly found in sugar-free chewing gum and mints. You must check the list of ingredients to determine if the item contains xylitol.

Please request an appointment for more information.

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SDF Treatment for Tooth Decay

The FDA-approved antimicrobial liquid, Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF), has been clinically proven to arrest active tooth decay and keep it from progressing any further.

Traditionally, the recommended treatment for tooth decay was removal of the infected tooth tissue followed by a restoration procedure such as dental fillings, crowns, or root canal. SDF treatment provides a noninvasive alternative for saving infected teeth, which is particularly beneficial for young children who still have their primary teeth.

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Keep in mind that SDF treatment does not eliminate the need for restorative dental procedures if you wish to enjoy the function and aesthetics of the original healthy tooth. But it effectively stops the disease from progressing until you can determine whether to restore it, extract it, or let it come out naturally as the adult tooth emerges.

How SDF treatment works
Silver Diamine Fluoride comprises two key components: silver and fluoride. Fluoride is the active ingredient responsible for stopping tooth decay and preventing it from appearing on the site, whereas silver assumes the role of an antimicrobial agent while simultaneously strengthening tooth dentin.

If your child is a suitable candidate for SDF treatment, the dentist will:

  • Brush and rinse his/her teeth without any paste
  • Dry the teeth and remove any debris – including plaque
  • Apply the SDF liquid to the infected teeth using a microbrush
  • Allow two minutes for the solution to cure on the teeth

Your child needs to wait for at least one hour before consuming anything to allow for the treatment to cure adequately.

Is SDF right for your child?

SDF is a painless, non-invasive treatment with quick treatment time. It can be effectively used to relieve tooth sensitivity, prevent cavities, and stop tooth decay. It is recommended for children with excessive tooth decay or carious lesions that cannot be treated all at once, for children with special needs, or those who find it difficult to cooperate for longer cavity treatments. Also keep in mind that all applied areas will stain black, and may need a crown or filling for aesthetics purposes.

Request an appointment to determine whether SDF treatment is right for your child.

For more information – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4778976/
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Welcome to our Dental Blog!

We are excited to launch our new practice and website! Please take a look around to see how we can help you. Check back often to see new articles and news regarding pediatric dental care. Thank you for visiting.

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