Xylitol

  1. Natural sugar xylitol alleviates dry mouth

    Douse dry mouth with the help of this all-natural sugar

    Q: I am awakened every night with a very dry mouth. Flax oil helps some, but can you suggest aother solution?

    GR: You may not give saliva much thought -- IF you've got enough of it.

    We desperately need for breaking down the foods we eat... and preventing bacteria from building up in our mouths... and when your body doesn't produce enough of it, your dry mouth could be severe enough to be "diagnosed" with something called xerostomia (which comes from the Greek words for "dry," xeros, and "mouth" or "opening," stomia).

    Mainstream docs typically recommend sucking on a lozenge or chewing some gum -- and they're not wrong! (More on that in a second.)

    But when it comes to getting those salivary glands back up and running, they're missing a big part of the picture. Because you can't just "wet" your mouth when it's dry. You've got to figure out what the root cause of the dryness is.

    When one of my patients comes to me with dry mouth, I look for other conditions like Laryngopharyngeal Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (LERD) and Sjögren's syndrome, as well as radiation therapies and medications used to manage other illnesses.

    If we can treat the underlying cause, we can often get the saliva flowing again!

    But in the meantime, there's something all-natural that can help address dry mouth and any other related issues that may linger (bad breath, difficulty eating or swallowing, or poor dental hygiene to name a few).

    And believe it or not, it's a sugar!

    A naturally occurring "sugar alcohol," xylitol is found in berries, vegetables, seed hulls, and nutshells. It's actually also found in the human body, but here's the problem: We can't make or eat enough of this stuff to prevent the dry mouth, tooth decay, and other issues that arise with aging.

    I'll tell you how to get it in a moment -- but first, a real-life success story.

    As reported by the Dental Products Report and Modern Dental Network early last year, an 88-year-old woman with a history of dry mouth experienced "a significant reduction in perceived oral dryness and discomfort" -- without unwanted side effects -- after using xylitol-releasing adhesive discs every night before bed for a year.

    Now, any kind of hard candy or chewing gum may help activate those salivary glands, but not all sugars were created equal. (And some were created in a mad scientist's laboratory!)

    But xylitol offers the added benefits of battling bacteria -- specifically, Streptoccus mutans (which can lead to tooth decay and cavities) -- and, because it acts as a natural lubricant, helping relieve sinus infection, allergy, and asthma.

    You can find xylitol in gums, toothpastes, mints, mouthwashes, supplements, and other products. I usually recommend aiming for a method that promotes extended release, regular use, or continued presence in your mouth.

    There's something else that this moisturizing natural treatment can relieve -- especially this time of year -- and I've got the complete story for you in the February issue of my Nutrition & Healing newsletter, which is on its way to you.

    Got something else "stuck in your teeth?" Drop me a line at askdrrothfeld@nutritionandhealing.com. I may choose yours to chew on next.

  2. Sweetener prevents cavities in children

    Sugar preventing tooth decay?

    It might sound like an oxymoron, but according to a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the natural sweetener xylitol could be the key to winning the battle against tooth decay in young children.

    That's big news – especially for poorer parts of the country, where kids are twice as likely to develop cavities in their baby teeth. It's called baby bottle tooth decay or nursing cavities.

    The fact that xylitol is good for your teeth is nothing new. Plenty of studies have shown that chewing xylitol gum or sucking on xylitol lozenges can have a positive effect on permanent teeth. This is the first study to show that it can have the same promising benefits for baby teeth as well.

    This time around, however, the researchers evaluated a different form of the natural sweetener. They gave xylitol-containing syrup to a group of kids that were between 9 and 15 months old and found that just 8 grams per day in a twice daily topical oral syrup could prevent up to 70 percent of decayed teeth.

    The researchers concluded that "More research is needed to develop vehicles and strategies for optimal public health…"

    But why wait for more research?

    Xylitol itself is inexpensive, and using it has the potential to save people thousands of dollars in dental costs later on in life.

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