Have you heard the buzz about Xylitol lately? Xylitol is similar to sugar in taste, but the effects on the body are quite different. Sucrose (white table sugar) serves as food for the harmful bacteria in our mouths (plaque), resulting in acid production that creates cavities. Xylitol is a different kind of sugar known as a polyol (sugar alcohol). Sugar alcohols aren’t sugar (although they do taste sweet) and they aren’t alcohol–at least, not the sort of alcohol (ethanol) that we ingest in alcoholic beverages
Many people are surprised at Xylitol’s great taste and amazed to learn about its long history. It is found in familiar fruits and vegetables, the wood of birch trees, and even the human body. The oldest record of this “sugar for oral health” seems to have been about 2500 years ago, in a book of Chinese herbal cures. The remedy is “Zhin-he–tong” (“sugar from the white tree”) for cavities and gum disease. Xylitol has none of the controversy that surrounds fluoride and it comes in a variety of usable forms that make it very easy, delicious and economical to use. Side by side in a sugar bowl you can’t really tell them apart.
What Does Xylitol Do?
Xylitol not only rids the mouth of sticky harmful bacteria, it actually promotes the growth of tooth-protective, non-acidic good bacteria. Xylitol has a much different effect on the plaque in our mouths, and prevents it from sticking to the tooth surfaces. Plaque uses carbohydrates and sucrose from our diet to grow and multiply creating that “furry” feeling that you sometimes feel on your teeth. The acids in plaque cause breakdown of the teeth and that is what leads to cavities. Those same bacteria are what irritate the gums which leads to gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Regular use of Xylitol has been shown to not only reduce tooth decay but also facilitate the remineralization of teeth. In Europe, children eating Xylitol had nearly 50% fewer ear infections. Xylitol has been used by diabetics for decades, and it is poised to replace fluoride as the greatest scientific discovery for healthier mouths!
Why Do We Need Xylitol
For many populations worldwide, the levels of dental caries have reached epidemic proportions. Even in the U.S., childhood tooth decay is on the rise. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that in the U.S. by the time kids are age 17, almost 80 percent have experienced tooth decay.
In Finland it is practically the opposite where 80 percent of high school graduates have no cavities. What is the difference? Finland schools regularly distribute Xylitol to the students. In Belize, Dr. Peter Allen, head of the Ministry of Health, reports that in his country’s landmark study, Xylitol reduced cavities by more than 50 percent with results continuing to show that same reduction even five years after the study (and Xylitol usage) was completed. When mothers eat Xylitol they help to stop infecting their baby with cavity-forming bacteria, and help prevent generations of families with “bad teeth”.
How Much Xylitol Do We Need?
The dental benefits of 5 – 10 grams of Xylitol each day in frequent small doses range from reducing gum problems to preventing cavities. Strive for at least 5 separate exposures with 1-2 grams Xylitol at each event. A small amount of Xylitol will work to prevent cavities when it is wiped over an infant’s new teeth. Even a tiny amount can prevent problems for a baby. Less than 5 grams does not have as much effect, although every time Xylitol is eaten it does help to alkalize the mouth for some tooth benefits.
Xylitol can be dissolved in liquid (or straight in the mouth), eaten in candies, and chewed in gum, and even sweeten your coffee. Avoid gum that mixes Xylitol and sorbitol together (Trident for example), the sorbitol seems to inactivate the Xylitol and is thought to possibly be a trigger for acid reflux. Over time we hope that Xylitol will begin to make its way into homes across the world resulting in fewer incidences of disease so that we can begin to enjoy healthy mouths for generations to come!
Word of caution, Xylitol is toxic to pets and should be kept away from them. In humans, high doses may have an initial laxative effect, or cause cramping and bloating (it acts as a fiber in our intestinal tract but the body regulates quickly), however, in pets, ingestion could be fatal.
Clove essential oil comes from the flower buds of the Myrtacae tree or bush (of the Myrtle family). It is an evergreen that grows up to 39 feet. The English name clove is derived from the Latin clavus meaning nail because of their nail-like shape. The oil is steam distilled from the bud and stems which results in an oil high in the phenol eugenol. Phenols are the most powerful antibacterial, anti-infectious, antiseptic, anti-viral and germicidal constituents in the all of the plant world. They are stimulating to the nervous and immune system, and are very oxygenating. Clove oil is a natural analgesic (relieve pain) and antiseptic (relieve infection) and is often used in dentistry.
Clove oil is great at safely numbing a baby’s sore gums. Simply dilute three drops of clove oil in one-fourth teaspoon of olive or coconut oil and massage the liquid onto your baby’s gums. It is always advisable to test it on your gums before using it on your baby. If it is found to be too strong, you may dilute it further.
Be sure that your child does not ingest large quantities. Clove oil being an anesthetic, can numb the gums for some time, thereby providing relief for the baby and relieve the tension that often builds around the family during this difficult time of life. However, make sure to apply small amounts, as it can upset the stomach if ingested in large amounts. The concentration of clove oil must be very low, because this oil can cause blistering of the gums, if used undiluted.
If your gums hurt – or if you’ve burned your mouth with hot food or drink , try applying the same mixture (three drops of clove oil to one-fourth teaspoon of olive or coconut oil) to the irritated area. Adding water to the mixture makes a great mouth rinse as well.
Clove oil can also relieve toothaches. Simply soak a cotton ball in a mixture of three drops of clove oil and one-fourth teaspoon of olive or coconut oil and place directly on the tooth. Hold the soaked cotton ball close to your aching tooth. Make sure to visit the dentist to uncover the source of discomfort.
Some uses for clove outside of teething and tooth pain is for pulling out infections from tissues, flatulence, flu, bad breath, insect bites and stings, nausea, nettles and poison oak (takes out sting), and is known to remove the desire to smoke (by placing oil from finger to tongue). Its aroma may help improve memory as well as create a feeling of protection and courage. Clove is also an immune stimulant, and does wonders in the kitchen.
This summer a friend shared her secret to a fly free summer. Pierce 20 cloves into a ripe apple and keep it close to you. Fly’s dislike the scent of cloves, and stay away!
It amazes me just how many products are in the oral health care section of the grocery stores and pharmacies. I often wonder how overwhelming it must be as a consumer to decide what products to use and why.
Personally, I stay clear from 99% of the products on the shelf, but then again I represent lines of natural and organic products that I have recommended as a hygienist for many years (call me lucky or cursed to be passionate about the dreaded taboo world of oral health). The years I have spent seeing firsthand what mainstream products do to peoples mouths propelled me into making changes for the patients I serve, myself and the ones I love. Still I am baffled at just WHAT is in these products but more importantly, WHY.
A big thanks goes out to Amy this week for uncovering some of the toxic chemicals in skincare, her posts are always packed with useful and informative information. Instead of loading you down with more information about ingredients and their known effects (which I promise to do soon), I want to offer everyday items that you may have in your home already that do wonders at cleansing and balancing the mouth’s chemistry. This easy to do DIY will give you the opportunity to break free from mainstream products without breaking the bank or leaving you with a drawer full of products that you simply don’t care for.
Oral health care products are in the works for 3Girls Holistic, until then we hope you enjoy concocting some on your own. These are great to do with kids, and can really help in getting them involved with the health of their teeth and gums.
DIY Toothpaste recipe
- ½ cup coconut oil softened
- 2-3 tablespoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons Xylitol- powdered in a blender or food processor
- 2-10 drops of essential oil* clove, lemon, lime, spearmint, cinnamon, eucalyptus, peppermint, licorice, rosemary, or orange
- 10 drops myrrh extract (optional)
- 10 drops grapefruit seed extract (optional)
Mix dry ingredients. Add coconut oil one teaspoon at a time, stirring as you go. Stop when desired consistency is reached. Add a few drops of oils to desired intensity of flavor, stir. Finish in a blender or food processor for a smoother texture. Store in a glass container, preferably amber or cobalt to block out the light. Dip toothbrush in and scrape small amount onto bristles. It is recommended that you have individual containers for each family member seeing as you are dipping your brush into the paste, it will help avoid cross contamination from family members and to avoid sickness. Enjoy!!
* Pure essential oils can be the primary active ingredient in your homemade toothpaste. Essential oils are ideal for use in toothpaste because they are both antiseptic and nontoxic, a rare combination.
Hello everyone, It’s Carrie, the resident oral health coach and dental hygienist from 3Girls Holistic. Before I get to the nitty gritty of oral health I thought it may be best to introduce myself and let you know just what I am about. Many people run from someone whose profession has them looking in their mouth and judging them for what they do or do not do or use in their mouth. I can happily say that I have decided my soul is best served outside the dental office in helping people identify what oral health means in their mouth and how to obtain it and maintain it outside the dental office.
I swore off of “shoulding” on people years ago. Instead I love helping people connect the dots about what their mouth is saying about them, and I am passionate about natural products. Long before 3Girls Holistic, I have been advocating removing the chemicals out of oral health care products including fluoride, Sodium Laurel Sulfate and Triclosan to name a few.
I have seen lives changed and thousands of dollars saved in unnecessary dental treatment with just a few changes to people’s routine. One of the things that I am most proud of is breaking the cycle of fear and cavities for kids. By helping children identify what to do in their mouth and changing the relationship parents and children have with oral health, my hope is that we create a generation of kids who will be able to teach their children safe and effective methods for taking care of their mouths. It isn’t happening now because cavities are again at epidemic proportions, with many children needing general anesthesia to fill multiple cavities at once. We are failing our children and ourselves, and I promise it’s happening in fluoridated homes just as much as non fluoridated homes!
So that’s me in a nutshell. Now, what I want to know is what is it that interests you? This is a place for you to come for answers to your questions! I could write until doomsday about what interests me, but that is not what 3Girls Holistic is about. We envision a place where you can come to have your questions answered without fear of judgment or ridicule. Send us an email, post on Facebook, give us a call…we want to hear from you and help you fill in the gaps to your overall health and wellness. Thanks for reading; I hope we hear from you soon!
In Good Health,