Dental caries is a disease which affects all age groups. It occurs due to the presence of Mutans Streptococci in the mouth. This bacteria feed on sugars from food and drinks such as milk, fruits, honey, preserves, candies, desserts, and soft drinks. It metabolizes the sugar and produces lactic acid that attacks the enamel of the teeth. This process is what causes tooth decay.
The development of dental cavities is dependent on several factors, among which includes diet. What others don’t know is that dental cavities can be transmitted.
One way of transmitting dental cavities is through mother and child. In addition to mothers, other family members who live in intimate contact with the infant (such as father, grandparents, etc.) can transmit the caries infection.
How do we prevent the transmission of dental cavities? According to Professor Kauko Mäkinen, dental cavities in infants can be prevented even before birth through the consumption of xylitol by the mother during pregnancy, and subsequently during the first years of the infant’s life.
Studies have shown that chewing gum with xylitol is effective in preventing the transmission of cavities from mother to child, at the same time, preventing the development of cavities in infants and young children. Children whose mothers used xylitol carried less cavities compared to children whose mothers did not take xylitol.
Although most of these studies involving the mother and child included using xylitol for about 1-2 years after childbirth, it is evident that additional protection against cavities can be achieved if mothers consume xylitol after fertilization.
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