Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dental Drama: Wisdom Teeth and Xylitol

Recently it was brought to my attention by my dentist that I should have all of my wisdom teeth removed. The claim by may dentists was that they are impacted and my cause complications in the future.

If you've followed this blog since it's start, you would know that the body does not break itself. Because of this, I became skeptical of my dentists recommendation and I decided to some personal research on the topic.

I found The amount of information and research that this one man has done about wisdom teeth is astounding and I would argue the best resource on the subject available. Upon reading most of the text on his site (which took a while) I decided that I would not be getting my wisdom teeth out. Warning: This website will scare you shitless about getting your wisdom teeth out.

The reason? Wisdom teeth removal surgery is mostly a superfluous endeavor. There is a very low-incidence of actual complications from impacted wisdom teeth and an almost equal amount of complications that can result from the removal of them. He literally lists ~50 things that can go wrong as a result of the surgery.

Note: As a reveler of the whispered word, I happily implore you to explore his website on the subject. Read his story first -- it is insane.

Unfortunately for me, one of my wisdom teeth has some decay on it. Curse my genetics! Note: Joking, it's totally because of my shitty eating habits for the first 20 years of my life -- Hello Epigenetics!

As a result of this news, I decided to seek any advice on decay reversal, as I wasn't even sure if it is a possibility.

Well, I found some interesting information. Enter Xylitol. Here is the section on dental care (skip ahead for my idiot-proof summary):

Xylitol is a "tooth-friendly," nonfermentable sugar alcohol.[11][12] A systematic review study[13] on the efficacy of xylitol has indicated dental health benefits in caries prevention, showing superior performance to other polyols (polyalcohols). This is because the structure of xylitol contains a tridentate ligand, (H-C-OH)3 that can rearrange with polyvalent cations like Ca (II). This interaction allows for Ca (II) to be transported through the gut wall barrier and remineralize enamel before dental caries form.[14] Early studies from Finland in the 1970s found that a group chewing sucrose gum had 2.92 decayed, missing, or filled (dmf) teeth compared to 1.04 in the group chewing xylitol gums.[15] In another study, researchers had mothers chew xylitol gum when their children were 3 months old until they were 2 years old. The researchers found the children of the mothers in the xylitol group had "a 70% reduction in cavities (dmf)" when they reached 5 years of age.[15] Recent research[16] confirms a plaque-reducing effect and suggests the compound, having some chemical properties similar to sucrose, attracts and then "starves" harmful micro-organisms, allowing the mouth to remineralize damaged teeth with less interruption. (However, this same effect also interferes with yeast micro-organisms and others, so xylitol is inappropriate for making yeast-based bread, for instance.) This is because cariogenic bacteria prefer fermentable six-carbon sugars, or disacharrides such as sucrose, as opposed to the nonfermentable xylitol, whose antimicrobial properties then "starve" the bacteria, reducing their growth and reproduction.[17]

Xylitol is specific in its inhibition of the mutans streptococci group, bacteria that are significant contributors to tooth decay.[18] Xylitol inhibits mutans streptococci in the presence of other sugars, with the exception of fructose.[19] Xylitol also inhibits the growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae, as well as the attachment of Haemophilus influenzae on the nasopharyngeal cells, making xylitol nose spray a very marketable product.[14] Daily doses of xylitol below 3.44 grams are ineffective, and doses above 10.32 grams show no additional benefit.[18]
Saliva containing xylitol is more alkaline than saliva which contains other sugar products. After taking xylitol products, the concentration of basic amino acids in saliva may rise. When saliva is alkaline (i.e., its pH is above 7), calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to precipitate into those parts of enamel where they are lacking.[20]

Xylitol-based products are allowed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make the medical claim that they do not promote dental cavities.[21]

A recent study demonstrated, as a water additive for cats, xylitol was effective in reducing plaque and calculus accumulation.[22] However, there is evidence xylitol may be dangerous to dogs.

To summarize, dental caries (cavities) are influenced by having an acidic environment in your mouth (remember pH scales from chem class?) and having material that the plaque bacteria can ferment -- like sugar, for instance.

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol with the same sweetness as table sugar. Unlike most sugars, it induces a favorable pH balance in your mouth (alkaline) and it is a nonfermentable substance which means the bacteria in your mouth cannot cause decay.

To top it all off, the more alkaline your mouth, the more saliva you produce and the more effective it can repair damaged enamel.

There have been no detrimental effects studied by excessive use from Xylitol (except nausea, diarrhea, and maybe a headache) but I took about 30g of this a day the past weekend and my shits have been excellent.

So I will be attempting to reverse the decay on my wisdom tooth with Xylitol, brushing my teeth, flossing, and using chewing sticks. Note: That whole post is not about chewing sticks, but all of it is informative.

There is no recorded insulin response as a result of Xylitol consumption, so it is safe for diabetics to use.

I'm just waiting for the study that says "Xylitol makes you sterile" because this shit is too good.

Here is the product I'm using (I found it at my local vitamin shoppe). I recommend the peppermint/spearmint gum. Avoid any of the fruity berry ones as they have some poopy ingredients.

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