As a local kid dentist, many parents come to us seeking advice for how to keep their child’s teeth healthy and clean. We can demonstrate how to properly brush teeth and also recommend a teeth cleaning twice a year but what if we knew of a secret that could help your child to have healthier teeth? Well, we do, and it’s called Xylitol.
Xylitol is an ingredient that is found in many brands of sugar-free gum. It is a sweetener that gives flavor, but more importantly it can actually fight bacteria and prevent it from creating acid that can attack the teeth. By chewing it after snacks or lunch, your child’s risk of getting cavities can be reduced. The best thing is how simple it is to implement this solution. We understand that it can be difficult, if not impossible, to get your child to brush their teeth in the middle of the day. Fortunately, giving them a piece of chewing gum is far simpler and they will probably feel like they are getting a treat.
As a kid dentist, we recommend that you try giving your child sugar-free gum with Xylitol around four or five. Doing so earlier, may result in them swallowing their gum. Even with five years olds, you have to teach them to chew rather than swallow because it is hard for the body to break down gum. Children that regularly swallow it can end up with an intestinal blockage and constipation that may require a surgical procedure to remove. In order to be sure that your child is old enough, watch them chew their gum and ask them to spit it out after a while. If they have already swallowed their gum, wait a couple of months and try again.
Another benefit of chewing sugar-free gum is that the body will start to produce more saliva when they do. Saliva is the body’s natural way of washing away food particles and bacteria. By chewing it throughout the day, their saliva levels will increase; their mouth will be healthier, and their breath will smell fresher. While chewing gum, any small food particles that are trapped on the teeth, may be removed as well. Just be sure that they know not to chew gum at school since this could get them into trouble.
Talk to your kids about the health benefits of chewing this type of gum and explain to them how bubble gum is not the same thing. If they chew gum that is full of sugar, the opposite will take place. Sugar is bad for your teeth and can create bacteria causing acid, which will in turn attack the teeth. Instead of making them healthier, gum with sugar can increase the risk of cavities, so it is important to explain the difference.
Additionally, chewing gum cannot replace brushing their teeth twice a day or visiting our kid dentist office twice a year. These activities all combine to promote good oral health so schedule your child’s teeth cleaning today.