Tooth decay, also called “dental caries,” is caused by a bacterial infection. There are certain “bad” bacteria that make acid when we eat sugars and starches (such as juice, soda pop, raisins, bread or candy). Over time, the acid eats away at our teeth, causing tooth decay that may eventually result in cavities.
We aren’t born with the bacteria that cause tooth decay. It’s usually passed from a parent or caregiver to a child through saliva by kissing, or sharing drinks, eating utensils or toothbrushes. Children who are never exposed to the bad bacteria cannot get tooth decay.
Your dentist will do an evaluation to determine how likely you or your child are to get tooth decay. Your risk can be low, medium, or high depending on the amount of “bad” bacteria in your mouth.
If tooth decay is found early, your dentist can stop it from progressing into a cavity and develop a specialized treatment plan to prevent future tooth decay.
Xylitol is a plant-based, natural sweetener and is used to sweeten products such as breath mints, chewing gum, candy and toothpaste. It can also be purchased in granules and used in place of sugar or other artificial sweeteners. Not only does Xylitol have 40% fewer calories than sugar, but it can also prevent tooth decay by reducing the cavity causing bacteria that live in our mouth.
Be aware, consuming large amounts of Xylitol can have a laxative effect, but this result is unlikely when using a small amount for cavity prevention. It is also important to keep xylitol away from your pets as it is extremely toxic to dogs.