Drop the Lemon Drops!
What a surprise it was to open an Oncology text book and read that one way to help our patients manage the discomfort of xerostomia was to recommend sucking on hard candies such as Life Savers or lemon drops! A xerostomic patient has a decreased oral pH along with an increased susceptibility to caries and other oral diseases. Adding prolonged exposure to an acidic sugary substance is a perfect recipe for decay and infection. For those with a compromised immune system due to cancer treatments, this could put them at greater risk for sepsis.
What if we could find products that contain a substance that actually prevents decay while stimulating saliva to provide relief from the discomfort of xerostomia? The good news is that we already have such a substance called Xylitol.
Xylitol is a naturally occurring non-fermentable sugar alcohol with a 5-carbon structure. www.xylitol.org is an invaluable source of information for healthcare providers and patients including, "This molecular difference is key to xylitol's benefits. While humans and other higher organisms have a metabolic pathway for using xylitol as an alternative energy source, many microorganisms (including many common pathogenic bacteria) do not. In fact, a number of studies have shown that besides being unable to metabolize xylitol, xylitol actually interferes with bacteria's ability to adhere to body tissues (especially in the mouth and nasal passages). Furthermore, xylitol has the unique effect of diminishing bacteria's ability to produce biofilm – thereby making the bacteria more susceptible to antibiotic and natural immune system defenses."
Xylitol is safe for diabetics and besides promoting dental health, studies are also showing benefits for upper respiratory infections such as sinusitis and otitis media. It's important for xylitol to be the main sweetener in order to get the maximum benefit.
Products containing Xylitol can be found at under our SHOP tab at the top of the page. Xylitol products available at Side Effect Support include toothpaste, rinses, sprays, gels, dry mouth discs, gum, mints, candy and nasal spray.
Keep xylitol products away from dogs. Just as chocolate, raisins and grapes cannot be digested by our canine friends, xylitol may cause them to become ill if ingested.