Xylitol – Natural Dental Care

My readers that follow the Mommy Footprint fan page are aware of my latest chapter of research and have been very helpful with suggesting questions & information on the topic of greener dental care. I’ve been working on research since last Spring and because I’m not a dentist or doctor, I’m having a tough time finding research or a subject matter expert I trust. But like any new journey, I’m going with my instincts but please know I’m writing this series as a parent – not a subject matter expert. With such a small percentage of dentists actually practicing holistic or ‘green’ dentistry it seems to be an uncharted area of parenting.  What started with questions about  sealant to use on cavities my kids have has become a huge topic of research. The first change I’m making in routine dental care for my family is switching toothpastes. I had seen sites talking about how bad fluoride is for health, but I assumed I didn’t need to worry since all my kids used Oral-B kids toothpaste (made and marketed for kids!). Because there is a Winnie The Pooh character on the front I guess sub-concisely didn’t think any bad ingredients would exist in the tube. I know…I’m slow to the dance.  After quickly checking the medicinal ingredients, fluoride is listed. And for those (my husband) who might think I’m paranoid, have you ever wondered why all toothpaste tubes warn you not to swallow & only use a pea size helping of paste?  If you read up on fluoride…you’ll actually find very little that it provides health benefits…it’s actually the opposite. I’m a pretty high strung parent and Googling fluoride did nothing to help my confidence in parenting. It is suggested it’s quite toxic in nature & linked to many diseases, bone cancer, brain development, muscle disorders, etc. I have a son that complained of body pains on a regular basis last year so this information really freaked me out. Finding reports on fluoride being one of the biggest medical frauds in medicine is not a good feeling when your children have always used it in their toothpaste.

If you look closely at your bottle of traditional toothpaste you’ll notice warnings not to swallow toothpaste & only use a pea sized amount. Yet commercials encourage these sorts of visuals for toothpaste measurements (image below)!


It’s all enough for me – I’ve pulled the traditional toothpaste from our house & made the following changes. I’ve been trying different brands of organic toothpaste with the kids & the hardest part is finding a brand that tastes good to them. I’ve also learned of an ingredient I want in my toothpaste called xylitol because it’s known to strengthen teeth in lieu of fluoride. My biggest concern of not using fluoriated toothpaste anymore is suddenly having a huge cavity problem on my hands because I’ve also cancelled fluoride treatments at our dental checkups & checked with my city to find out if our drinking water contains fluoride (it doesn’t). So without any fluoride will my children’s teeth be okay?

After talking with a super helpful person at Planet Organic, I learned about xylitol and the benefits of this natural sweetener that is naturally occurring in many of the foods we eat. Xylitol gum or mints you can chew after each meal stops acid attacks that would otherwise cause cavities. For more information on this process click here.  For people reading this that are very prone to cavities or have weak teeth it’s not a good idea to go crazy with xylitol – 6 to 10 g is enough. I’ve read that too much will give you diarrhea & this sweetener is not good for animals.

How else to strengthen kids teeth if you replace fluoride?  Brushing teeth, flossing teeth, extra calcium for teeth & bones, xylitol in toothpaste, xylitol brands of chewing gum/mints form for after meals, and overall diet.  These are the steps I’m taking to be proactively removing fluoride from my children’s bodies, hopefully without causing future problem with cavities…but after researching fluoride…I’m happy with having xylitol in my arsenal to help keep their teeth stronger.

What brands of natural toothpaste am I currently using?  I like Grants made in Australia for myself. The tea tree oil ingredient gives a refreshing taste & the mint oil is similar to the traditional toothpaste ‘taste’ I’m used to.  My kids are not huge fans. I think it’s important to support the Canadian made Green Beaver brand too. I would have purchased it, but I didn’t see xylitol listed as an ingredient on the packaging. The Green Beaver website and Gwen from Nayla Naturals confirms that Green Beaver toothpaste does contain xylitol so I will buy this brand next – hopefully they have a more ‘kid friendly’ tasting flavor. Another thing I like about the Green Beaver website is their category called “Ingredients to Avoid” and why. You will find many of the ingredients to avoid if you read the ingredients on the toothpaste you are using right now: sodium lauryl sulfate for one. Read why here and check out this handy section of their site. So with toothpaste well in hand, next up is to try the xylitol mints & gum I found (they are expensive) at Planet Organic for some extra help with cavity prevention after meals. I know my kids will happily oblige popping a goodie after meals.

The next article on greener dental care will be what I’ve learned about dental sealants. Children get cavities – what options are there for sealing a cavity?


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17 Responses to Xylitol – Natural Dental Care

  1. Free Range Mama September 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    HI, thanks for doing the research for me!

    Do you know of any green dentists in the Vancouver BC area?

  2. Sara September 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Have you had a visit with the dentist since deciding to not do fluoride treatments? I’m just wondering how the dentist reacted to that. My son is 20-months-old and had his first visit a couple months ago. Even though I had reservations, I let them do a fluoride treatment and I’m really hoping that at his next dental visit, I will be assertive enough to say no.

    Thanks so much for this informative series! Would love to also set part of deal with dental xrays and whether or not I should freak out about those.

  3. Michelle September 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    great article Suzanne! The thing too that annoys me about the ingredients that these companies use for children’s products (ie P & G) is the food colouring that they include (known to increase hyper activity in children) AND aspartame (a poison linked to many health ailments)

  4. suzanne September 16, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    Thanks Michelle! Yeah…I saw the ‘blue ice flavour’ in the Oral-B my kids used to brush with….we can guess what shade of dye went into that! And surprise, surprise…sorbitol is listed again!

  5. suzanne September 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    hi! I have visited since and they didn’t seem surprised by me saying no fluoride. You can either opt for no fluoride or the kind they ‘paint’ onto the teeth..it’s better than sitting there with your teeth in trays of it. I will cover xrays…but when I went with my 5 years olds.. I asked about xrays & they said my twins were a little young for xrays and didn’t push to do this. I don’t think a 20 month needs xrays taken because their teeth aren’t super tight together yet. Let us know what your dentist says and stay strong with your beliefs!!

  6. suzanne September 16, 2011 at 4:44 pm #

    Thanks! The best way to find a dentist practicing holistic dentistry is to call a trusted Natural path in your area…they can then recommend someone. It’s how I found the holistic dentist I’m trying to interview. =)

  7. Nadia @ Red, White and GREEN Mom September 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    I’m a little confused. The Green Beaver brand does contain Xylitol? WHy isn’t it on the ingredients then? I use that brand and my kids love the flavours… but it bothers me to think there are ingredients not listed on the packaging.

    Either way, I was thinking of making my own after this last toothpaste runs out… I’ve seen some great recipes with coconut oil as a base.

  8. Michelle September 16, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    Yes I agree Suzanne that a child does not need xrays until any 2 teeth touch. The thing that I have found so important with my 2 kids (age 8 and 5 1/2) is flossing. THAT has been the difference. My 8 yr old does it on her own religously.

  9. Michelle September 16, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    Also, check out the article in ALIVE magazine (September 2011)…a good one about the food colouring/hyperactivity link.

  10. Crunchy mama September 17, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    I have been making all of our toothpaste for over a year and a half. We have no cavities, and my dentist didn’t even clean my teeth last time. She said they were perfect, and asked what I had been using. Just my homemade paste and a Waterpik. No flossing. My kids balked a bit at first, but now love it. Baking soda, coconut oil, and any essential oil you like. I use peppermint, or anise, or an orange & vanilla blend (Creamsicle). Organic oils can be purchased too. A drop of peppermint oil in a glass of water for a rinse if you feel you need it or don’t like the taste of the baking soda. The tea tree oil might be turning your kids off, but you can just make the paste without, and add a drop to your brush.

  11. suzanne September 17, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    Thank you for the post! Do you have a link to your recipe with measurements of each ingredient? It sounds fabulous & there are people that want to try it I’m sure. ~ Suzanne

  12. suzanne September 17, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Morning Nadia! I’m not sure if I was too rushed at Planet Organic and missed seeing xylitol on the Green Beaver packaging, but it is listed on their website. The Green Beaver brand is a great brand…but I’ll check if it’s actually been missed on the packaging. Funny, yesterday I was told was a great natural tooth whitener coconut oil is…just another thing to use coconut oil for – love it! What flavour do you use that your kids like? Mine aren’t crazy about the pastes I’ve given them yet.

  13. T. September 18, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    I just checked our tube of green apple Green Beaver toothpaste. It does contain xylitol which is good. The concern I have is that it also contains sorbitol. I sorbitol not an artificial sweetener? I have heard it can cause irritable bowel syndrome. I know that artificial sweeteners in general are very bad for the body.
    My kids also use Tom’s of Maine Silly Strawberry toothpaste. It is rated a 2 on EWG site. My concern with it is that it contains SLS as it’s last ingredient.

    I too would love Crunchy Mama’s recipe for toothpaste. Think how much fun the kids could have mixing their own toothpaste!

  14. T. September 18, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Just to clarify the silly strawberry toothpaste is flouride free.

    Sara- my kids have never had flouride and we go to a conventional dentist. The dentist has never questioned me on it but the hygienists have. It seems that every single time my kids go for a check up the hygiensts ask what flavour of flouride they want. They know to say “no flouride.” The fact that they even ask the kids what flavour makes me angry, especially when it is in their charts that they are not to have flouride. The last couple of visits they have finally figured it out – now there is a big note at the top of their charts – NO FLOURIDE.

  15. Sara September 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    Thanks to everyone that chimed in about the dentist’s reaction to saying no to fluoride! When my son did have it, it was “painted” on, which they told me reduces the amount that is swallowed, but still… I’m thinking that next time we’ll skip it. Also, they didn’t do xrays at 20 months, but I know that down the road, that day will come (and I’m wondering how much to worry about it for me and my husband).

  16. Crunchy mama September 20, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    I don’t use a recipe, rather just add and mix until it is the consistency of toothpaste. Room temperature coconut oil is easier to blend in than refrigerated. My kids love the peppermint or the Creamsicle blend. Honey or stevia may be added for sweetness, and I did add a touch of honey at first, but quickly decided that I didn’t feel it was necessary for us.

  17. Cmcdental October 20, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    Hi! Thanks for sharing the information of the research on fluoride toothpaste. My child had a dental camp in her school, in which she was recommended to use fluoride paste. But after reading your article I have decided to avoid fluoride paste.
    Will you suggest the brand name of the toothpaste, that can be used for kids. Keep on posting….

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