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January 31, 2008

Xylitol and oral health

Blogged under Dental Education by DrJean on Thursday 31 January 2008 at 11:16 pm

Last weekend,I spent 2 full days at the Istana Hotel in downtown Kuala Lumpur,attending a dental conference along with several hundred other dental professionals.It was the 15th FDI-MDA Scientific Convention and Exhibition.

I must say that the lecture topics and the speakers were pretty good.I personally learnt quite a bit from the lectures.The organising commitee did a commendable job in this area.

One of the topics covered over 3 lectures was regarding caries(tooth decay) management.We are moving into the age of minimally invasive dentistry(MID) and this terminology is actually very well accepted by the general public.It gives a very non-threatening feel to your dental treatment.

We are talking a lot about prevention and arresting dental diseases in its early stage.

One of the substances that is relatively unknown but has great potential for use in preventive dentistry,is xylitol.

Xylitol is a natural sweetener.A natural sweetener (as opposed to artificial sweeteners which can be purchased to be used as a sugar substitute) is found in fruits and vegetables.It is mainly harvested from the bark of a tree found in Scandinavia.Well,you can imagine that it is not something you can find sold off the racks of your local Tesco or any of your neighourhood supermarket.Yes,it is a rather expensive substance to produce.And the nearest thing you can get hold of that contains xylitol(in small amounts) is actually some brands of sugar-free chewing gum.

So what’s the big deal with  xylitol? Studies done on it has shown that xylitol has protective action against tooth decay.It is the only sweetener that does not produce acid in oral plaque(which contains decay causing bacteria).Xylitlo also prevents bacteria from sticking to the tooth surface ,prevents growth and metablolism of the these bacteria.Basically it has a suppressive action against decay-causing bacteria in the mouth.On top of all that,it has also been proven to reverse early processes of tooth decay on enamel surfaces by reversing the loss of minerals from our tooth surface due to acid activity.

Based on these infromation,dentists are beginning to prescribe xylitol-containing chewing gum to some patients who show early signs of loss of mineral form their enamel surfaces,and to those who are relatively more prone to tooth decay.

Chewing on gum will increase salivary flow,and that acts as a buffer to the acidity as well.Therefore,the action of xylitol is enhanced. However,they are  not to chew a stick of gum for more than 10 minutes because our salivary glands stop producing saliva after 10 minutes of stimulation.


My dear friends,Dr Amy and Dr Amy and I posing for a photo.

January 8, 2008


Blogged under Family,Personal by DrJean on Tuesday 8 January 2008 at 7:34 am

My grandpa went home to be with the Lord  last weekend.He died of respiratory failure due to post operative complication after a hernia surgery.He was 100 years old.

To say that Grandpa was an amazing man is a gross understatement.

Grandpa was fiercely independant.Widowed since many many years ago(in fact,when my mum was an infant) he chose to live on his own even though in the later years,my parents frequently offered him to stay with them.He lived in a simple village house in Sitiawan, cooked his own meals,washed his own clothes.He drew water from the well for his bath and he planted a vegetable patch outside his house.He even made his own furniture,putting up shelves and cupboards for his books and clothes.

His passion was reading.Grandpa read voraciously.He read the papers daily,always covering the international news first before going for the local news. He spent a lot of time reading the Bible.He read history books and geography books.His general knowledge puts us to shame and most of the time when he was describing something to us,we would just nod sheepishly,realising how little we know 🙁

He wrote poems as well.He would write about the wonder of God’s creation.He wrote about his desire for world peace.

Grandpa was facsinated with technology.He wanted to know how the computer works.And when he wanted to know about the internet.The Chinese has a saying (literally translated)”Live till old age,learn till old age”.That is my grandpa personified.

In his last few days of life,even though his physical body was weakening,he was in high spirits.He repeated said that he had lived a good life and he was thankful to God for giving him such a long life.He was glad that all his grandchildren and great grandchildren came back to Sitiawan to see him.His one wish before he passed on was for the world to be peaceful,for all wars to cease.

We are going to miss him very much,but I am glad Grandpa is free of his infirmities and he is a much better place.Goodbye,Grandpa.




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