Monday, November 18, 2013

Mom’s Chewing Gum Can Help Prevent Baby’s Cavities?

Any mom who has ever learned, at their young child’s very first dental appointment, that there are cavities to tend to will tell you that her feelings of shock were quickly replaced by a wave of guilt.  Was she not helping her child brush the right way?  Not often enough?  Was she supposed to be flossing in between those baby teeth?

Are Cavities Contagious?

Studies are now showing that the cavities may indeed be mom’s fault, but not for the reasons she thinks.  Who knew it was possible for a baby to “catch” tooth decay from her mom?  Evidence shows that it does happen, thanks to a bacteria called Strep
tococcus mutans that can be found in the mouth of anyone with active tooth decay.  This bacteria is transferable through the exchange of saliva, which is all too common between a mother and young child.

Naturally, there are numerous everyday activities between a mother and child that would qualify: sharing utensils or drinking cups; blowing on a toddler’s food to cool it down; even those irresistible kisses on the lips.  Or even the occasional (shudder) biting off pieces of food to feed them, or (bigger shudder) a parent cleaning off the child’s pacifier in their own mouth.

An Ounce of Prevention....Or In This Case, a Gram of Xylitol
Most of those practices are nearly unavoidable - certainly no mom can hold back from giving her little one kisses, and when a two-year-old is hungry and her food is too hot, well ...Streptococcus mutans is the last thing on a mom’s mind.  Recognizing this, many dental professionals recommend focusing on preventative measures instead.

Chewing xylitol gum, a gum sweetened with a sugar alternative derived from birch trees, is shown to significantly reduce the colonization of Strep Mutans bacteria.  It is recommended that mothers establish a habit of chewing xylitol gum during their third trimester, and maintain it as their babies begin to cut teeth.  The xylitol can help keep this bacteria from transferring from mom to baby and from attacking the soft, new enamel of a young child’s vulnerable teeth. 

Three to four pieces of Dr. John's® Simply Xylitol® gum, chewed throughout the day, will maximize the oral health benefits of xylitol useage. Preventative measures such as this, paired with regular cleanings and flossing - for the mom - can mean a much happier visit to the dentist for the toddler (and the mom) the next time around.



  1. As a biochemist and pediatric dentist, this is the exact problem that I have been researching for several years with college writing service writers, and can tell you it is 100% preventable, if you change from the current paradigm regarding tooth decay. I have helped thousands of my patients avoid these "surprise" cavities (even with crowded teeth). I am speaking next week at the national pediatric dental convention (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) to help teach other pediatric dentists a more practical approach to prevent cavities through diet.

    My talk is based on my upcoming book, which describes your exact scenario in the first chapter almost word for word... and how to help other mothers (and fathers) prevent it.
    If you would like more information on how to keep your children cavity free forever while keeping your sanity, you can get a good start with some of my articles at

    You can't' go back in time, but by staying cavity free, a parent doesn't have to make the tough decision on how to accomplish treatment in the first place. I wish we could stop all general anesthesia cases that you mentioned in your article.

    There are two paradigms in medicine (and dentistry)...
    Proactive and Reactive.

    If you know how to prevent cavities, you start thinking about it at age one. If you fix them after they occur, you start at age 3 or 4. Not every dentist or doctor takes a completely proactive approach, and that is partly because the paradigm regarding cavities needs to change. Preventing cavities is easy, but it is just not intuitive, even to dentists.

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