Drinks and Teeth

by Janice Welch

We have had quite an adventure in the last month. My son, who has an incredibly high tolerance for pain, hit his limit. He came to me rubbing the side of his mouth and when we pried his jaws open and used a flashlight we saw the unthinkable – a very bad cavity. We brush Nathan’s teeth every day, but it is not easy, and getting the back molars is next to impossible. I still was somewhat surprised because of the fact that Nathan eats no refined sugars and no starches. His basic diet is meat, vegetables, fruit, and homemade goat yogurt.

I did a lot of panicking and pondering. “How in the world did this happen?” and I think I now have a good idea.

You don’t have to tell me that water is the best drink for everybody. The problem is that Nathan thinks water is for spitting and without some slight taste to the water he will not swallow. So in our quest for health and wellness, we decided to juice fresh pineapples (great enzymes, etc.) and mix it 1/3 juice to 2/3 water.

After all this tooth decay was discovered, I realized that the juice, although diluted, still contains a lot of sugar. After consumption of sugar there is acid production for 20 minutes, which feeds the streptococcus mutans that dissolves tooth enamel and demineralizes teeth. Add this to the fact that he carried around his sippy cup ALL day long, and you have constant breeding ground for decay.

So now we were on a mission to lightly flavor water using xylitol as a sweetener. Xylitol is a naturally sweet 5-carbon sugar alcohol that can be used exactly like sugar, but is not digestible and actually has the added benefit of being a natural antibacterial. Because of these antibacterial properties Xylitol actually reduces tooth decay rates. 4 to 12 grams daily is the optimal intake for dental cavity prevention. Large amounts (35 to 40 grams) can produce diarrhea or intestinal gas, so watch the intake level. Also, look for birch tree-sourced Xylitol (as opposed to corn-sourced).

The favorite drink ended up being Santa’s Candy Apple Herbal Tea by Celestial Seasonings (don’t worry there is no sugar added). Steep one tea bag in a cup of boiling water for 8 minutes. Remove tea bag and stir in 2 teaspoons Xylitol (8 grams). Add 3 to 4 cups cold water. This mixture yields a lightly flavored drink that I am happy to let him carry around and sip on all day. It took two weeks, but now Nathan loves it too (and we are glad to not be juicing pineapples nightly!)

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