We’ve heard the saying that sugar rots your teeth. This adage exists for a good reason, as too much sugar can absolutely increase the risk of decay. So it’s no surprise that your dentist in Douglasville will encourage you to enjoy sugary snacks and drinks in moderation. But what if there was a way where you could enjoy sweet treats and not put your teeth at risk for cavities? Good news! Thanks to xylitol, there is.
All About Xylitol
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that’s naturally found in many fruits and vegetables. Its naturally sweet flavor can give you everything you want from sweets without the risks of traditional sugar. How so? Well, xylitol is digested differently in the body than sugar, so it’s less dangerous for overall health. Sugar can raise blood glucose levels, slow down metabolism, and cause issues with weight. Xylitol on the other hand has about 40% fewer calories than sugar and has a low glycemic index, meaning blood glucose levels won’t be nearly as affected by xylitol as it is by sugar. But that’s not all. Your dentist in Douglasville wants you to know that xylitol may also protect oral health.
Oral Health Benefits of Xylitol
Besides being a better alternative to sugar for overall health, xylitol can also benefit oral health. There are tons of bacteria in our mouths. Some of the bacteria are good, and some are bad. One of the most common types of bad bacteria is Streptococcus mutans. These bad bacteria love sugar as it gives them fuel to replicate and create more and more bacteria. Essentially, the more sugar we eat, the more the bacteria feed, and the more bacteria they produce. Streptococcus mutans are also the main contributor to plaque buildup which also means an increased risk of decay. However, xylitol is different.
While the Streptococcus mutans bacteria will still feed on xylitol, it won’t allow the bacteria to reproduce. In fact, quite the opposite. Xylitol will starve Streptococcus mutans and actually reduce the amount of bad bacteria in the mouth. This gives the bacteria less of a chance to create plaque buildup and cavities.
Some of the oral benefits of xylitol include:
- Prevention of tooth decay
- Starving bacteria
- Prevention of oral inflammation
- Reducing the risk of gum disease
- Remineralizing teeth
- Increasing saliva production
- Reducing the acidity of your saliva
- Helping with calcium absorption
Gum that contains xylitol as opposed to sugar can be a great way to protect teeth. Chewing gum on its own produces saliva that washes away bacteria and neutralizes acids. But chewing gum with xylitol can continuously kill bad bacteria. You can also find xylitol in the baking aisle at most grocery stores and use it as a sugar replacement in many recipes.
Replacing sugar with xylitol can go a long way in protecting teeth. But it is not a replacement for good old-fashioned oral hygiene. You still need to brush and floss your teeth every day and see your dentist in Douglasville every six months for checkups.
Your dentist in Douglasville strives to make every dental appointment fun and stress-free for all of our patients. But we do understand that some of our patients may be nervous, anxious, or scared of their visit. While we will certainly use all our techniques to help you relax, there are some times when we need to consider using a form of sedation dentistry such as nitrous oxide. But what is nitrous oxide? Is it safe? Don’t worry, we are here to help answer your questions.
What is Nitrous Oxide?
Nitrous oxide is a gas that has no smell and no color but can help relax patients while in the dental chair. It simply helps soothe the mind and makes getting dental care easier, more comfortable, and more enjoyable. This is important, especially for kids, because a kid’s experience with a dentist in their earlier years can affect their attitude about dentistry throughout their life. In fact, a study published in the National Library of Medicine found that many adults who are scared of the dentist can trace their fear back to a negative experience that occurred during childhood, and those adults are less likely to have regular dental and more likely to have dental problems.
Is Nitrous Oxide Safe?
Yes! The American Dental Association considers nitrous oxide safe for patients to use during their dental appointments with proper moderation. Now, it shouldn’t necessarily be used on every patient in every situation, but it can be beneficial for patients who:
- Will be having a longer procedure
- Have trouble sitting still
- Have a strong gag reflex
- Experience fear
- Are special needs patients
If your dentist in Douglasville recommends nitrous oxide for you, know that it is safe and the effects wear off quickly.
How Is Nitrous Oxide Administered?
One of the great things about nitrous oxide is that there are no needles involved, and it can be administered directly through a small nose mask. This mask only covers your nose and delivers nitrous oxide, along with oxygen, simply through breathing. It takes about five minutes for the nitrous oxide to take effect. After treatment is done, you will breathe just oxygen for a little bit to clean out any gas and will have no lingering drowsiness from the nitrous oxide. Sometimes, nitrous oxide can cause nausea so we may encourage only a small meal or snack before any nitrous appointment.
If you need dental treatment that may take a while or if you’re scared of the dentist, talk with your dentist in Douglasville about how we can help. We’re always accepting new patients and would be happy to help!