Xylitol: Promoting dental health naturally and frugally
Thankfully, I stumbled across a blog by a dentist and spent many hours reading her archives. If you're at all interested in trying a different approach to your dental health, Dr. Ellie's blog is a great place to start. And along with all of her helpful answers and advice, she's a very kind person who gives of her time and resources to help others have healthy teeth.
My first experience with xylitol was when we got some granulated xylitol through a local co-op. At $6.20 a pound, it was not going to replace our sugar consumption, that's for sure. But the great part is that it only takes a small amount of xylitol to help teeth stay clean and healthy.
Joshua and I, along with our boys (ages 4 and 2) have been consuming xylitol for several months now, and we all love it!!
I hadn't had issues with plaque, but eating a little xylitol (along with using our WaterPik, which I very highly recommend because it gets my teeth so clean!!) makes my teeth feel squeaky clean. I'm also using Dr. Ellie's "system" and plan to continue on it for 12 months and then get a second opinion from a local dentist -- though I have been very pleased with the results thus far.
Yehoshua (4 1/2) especially had plaque build-up on his teeth, even though I brushed them twice a day. Giving him a small bite of xylitol before naps and bedtime, as well as after meals, has resulted in less plaque and fresher breath! (I now allow him to brush after lunch time, and before bed I brush and floss his teeth.)
Dr. Ellie stresses how important it is to protect our teeth while we sleep (less saliva = more tooth decay) and so I've been very diligent to make sure that the boys always brush and eat xylitol before sleeping. Dr. Ellie's blog is always an encouragement to me to keep on taking great care of our family's teeth!
Okay, okay... so I'm passionate about oral health. Let's get down to the point of this post: how to reap the benefits of xylitol frugally! :)
What is xylitol?
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol (click on that link to read more).
Granulated xylitol looks and tastes similar to sucrose (table sugar).
Xylitol is also made into mints or candies (xylitol + flavoring), or used in chewing gum.
Why should I use xylitol?
It works. (Use Google to locate studies and statistics!) Fewer dental caries means less invasive dental procedures like fillings, which are not natural and are definitely expensive!
Where can I get xylitol?
Xylitol can be purchased at health food stores, bulk food stores (be sure to ask, since sometimes they carry products that aren't on the shelf!), through co-ops, or online.
We have tried mints and gums from Zellies and from Emerald Forest. Zellies has the best service -- free shipping and the order gets here FAST. Emerald Forest is cheaper, and orders have arrived about a week after placement.
Xylitol gum is convenient for when we're away from home for a meal and can't clean our teeth as well as we could at home. Chewing gum helps clean the teeth. The mints are convenient, and taste just like normal breath mints.
But the mints and gums are expensive!
I know. Xylitol isn't as cheap as sucrose, that's for sure. :) So here is how we consume xylitol without breaking the bank:
Mints and gums: Joshua has a small container of these in his lunch box for while he is at work. (He gets 10 minutes to eat lunch, so there's no hope of doing anything more than popping in a mint or piece of gum!)
Granulated xylitol: This is what the children and I consume. Per ounce, plain granulated xylitol is far cheaper than even the cheapest mints or gums.
The recommended amount of xylitol to consume in one day (for maximum dental benefits) is 6.5-10 grams (1-2 teaspoons, I believe). We buy the xylitol in 5-pound bags, and one bag lasts a long time.
Granulated xylitol is good (I mean, who doesn't love being able to eat sugar?!) but it's not as exciting as flavored mints or candies.
But... I figured out how to flavor my own! Into a small container of xylitol, I put 2-3 drops of pure orange oil (essential oil, not extract), stirred it together, and now we have what tastes like orange slice candy! It's very yummy!!
I did the same with peppermint oil in another container!
Now, the flavored granulated xylitol isn't as convenient as the ready-made mints or candies, because we have to use a spoon to eat it. But it works for around the house... and it's so much cheaper than buying mints/candies!
I just recently placed an order with Emerald Forest, and used a 10% off coupon code they had given me. When my order came, they had included another coupon -- but I won't be ordering again for quite some time. If anyone is interested in using the 10% off code, contact me and I'll send you the code. :) Edited to add: Coupon has been taken!
Have you ever used xylitol? I'd love to hear about your experiences with it! Where do you purchase yours, and what is the best price you've found? What's your favorite brand of mints or gum?