Brushing My Toddler's Teeth with Sugar: Part TwoCasey Mullins
Phase two of sugar brushing is finding a dentist who supports the use of xylitol, the good news is that most every dentist who has heard of it supports its use. The bad news is that not all dentists know just how many different xylitol products are available for a wide range of patients. There are two especially important periods in a child’s life where introducing xylitol can have the most significant impact, when they cut their first tooth and when they begin getting permanent teeth.
I half joked with the mom sitting next to me about how guilty I felt that I didn’t know any of this when Vivi or Addie got their first teeth and Addie already has six permanent teeth. Since I’ve already screwed up with six of Addie’s teeth and 14 of Vivi’s, we’ll just have to see how well the other 44 teeth turn out in 12 years or so. Ideally a pregnant mom should use xylitol products and continue their use during the first three years of her child’s life to lessen her shared cavity causing bacteria with her children.
Again, I didn’t know. Never touched xylitol when I was pregnant or when my children were tiny babies. I’m sorry kids.
So where does one start if before today they knew nothing of xylitol? One tiny step at a time.
You certainly don’t have to go out and buy a boatload of new products and get to the suggested 8-10 grams of xylitol a day overnight. Just like exercise, anything is better than nothing and too much isn’t necessarily a good thing. At this moment, most of us can’t just head to the local grocery store to buy xylitol products, while they are available in a lot of health and natural food stores, the easiest place to find them is probably online. Here are the three main products I’m using with Vivi to help her little teeth and nose stay as healthy as possible.
Vivi is now using a xylitol tooth gel rather than the pink stuff available at the grocery store. It’s safe to swallow, uses no artificial colors and only uses the natural sweetness of xylitol to flavor it. (Naturally flavored varieties are also available.) Special combo packs including the Baby Banana Brush are also available (if you haven’t heard of it, the Baby Banana Brush is the Sophie the Giraffe of the dental world.) I brush Vivi’s teeth twice a day with it and let her give it a go once I know I’ve gotten all of her chompers.
After snacks and lunch I give Vivi 4 little xylitol candies called Sparx. YOU GIVE YOUR CHILD CANDY THREE TIMES A DAY?! Yes. Kind of, chill out. Four little Sparx candies equal 1 g of xylitol (250mg in each) and is easily the best way to introduce your kids’ mouths to xylitol. At a xylitol conference several dentists and hygienists presented their therapeutic treatment regimens they give to their own patients, making sure the kids understand that the candies are therapeutic doses, not YAY CANDY GIMME! products. The candies are made with xylitol, natural colors and flavors and taste really good.
Last I use xylitol nose spray in Vivi’s nose at least twice a day, just two little drops in each nostril. She wasn’t such a huge fan at first but now she just puts up with it. It’s not any different from other isotonic saline nasal sprays except that it has the added benefit of xylitol which helps prevent bacteria from getting too comfortable in the nasal and sinus cavities (which is all connected to the ears and frequency of ear infections as well) and helps to moisturize the nose as the xylitol actually attracts moisture, keeping dry noses and sinuses well hydrated. It is NOT antibacterial, nor is it medicated, it merely creates an environment that bacteria has a hard time multiplying in.
Addie has been a little trickier. I’ve started her with the regular xylitol fluoride-free toothpaste at night until she gets used to it (girl hates mint stuff) and while she’ll take four of the little candies, they’re not her favorite. She prefers a glass of water with a teaspoon of xylitol dissolved in it after meals. One teaspoon delivers 4g of xylitol so she gets her quota much quicker. She also hates gum and mints so those are out of the question.
Many pediatric dentists who work with special needs children said they have had the most luck with xylitol dissolved in water as well as an oral spray that contains xylitol when it comes to their trickier, more stubborn patients.
Thankfully when it comes to introducing xylitol to your family there’s more than a dozen different ways and flavors to do it. Which one is best? Whichever one you and your child will willingly and regularly take.
If you missed my original post about the use of xylitol with my family, click here. I’m also not trying to sell anything or promote any particular brand or company, it just so happens that these are the products I use (and purchased) myself and have had good luck with. Just trying to share my experience, if miracles happen? You saw it here first. If nothing at all happens? Well, now you know.