‘Sweet Retreat’ Brings Dentists, Hygienists to Xylitol Conference


Xylitol 101 The first day of lectures kicked off, quite appropriately, on one of the sweetest days of the year—Valentine’s Day. The day featured presentations and a question and answer panel from Dr. John Peldyak, Dr. Kauko Mäkinen, Dr. Yukie Nakai, Dr. Brett Duane, and Dr. Joe Greenberg. Dr. Peldyak began his lecture by asking, “Why xylitol?” He cited the sugary taste, the cooling effect, and xylitol’s ability to prevent dental caries as well as upper respiratory infections as a few reasons. Introduced as the father of xylitol research by Xlear, Inc.’s Brian Craig (International Sales), Dr. Mäkinen also focused on the health benefits of xylitol and called it a “very versatile substance.” He said that there is strong clinical evidence that links xylitol to remineralization. Additionally, Dr. Mäkinen spoke about xylitol and periodontal disease saying that xylitol reduces the adhesivity of plaque. Dr. Nakai and Dr. Duane presented each of their studies, focusing on the transmission of bacteria from mother to child and the effectiveness of xylitol to reduce this transmission. Dr. Nakai said that xylitol gum with the addition of basic prevention with an early intervention period starting at pregnancy can reduce mutans streptococci (MS) colonization in newborn babies and infants. Keeping the focus on pediatric oral care, Dr. Greenberg of the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF) said that the foundation is focused on the eradication of oral disease. Citing the work of David Satcher, MD, PhD, Dr. Greenberg said, “The most common childhood disease is tooth decay.” He said that it is 5 times as common as childhood asthma, adding that 51 million hours are lost annually from school due to dental pain in the United States. “Dental disease is nearly 100% preventable,” said Dr. Greenberg. The Oral/Systemic Connection The second day of lectures focused on the connection of oral health to overall body health. Dr. Chris Kammer, dressed in a silver glitter pants and jacket set, opened the morning with “a love song about the tooth brush.” The founder of the American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), Kammer said said that communicating the message is of the utmost importance. Building on Dr. Kammer’s call to action, Shirley Gutkowski, RDH and Angie Stone, RDH presented their 2008 pilot study, which set out to show xylitol working in dependent adults and seniors in long-term care facilities. In her lecture, “The Mouth is the Doorway to the Body,” Trisha O’Hehir, RDH explained that oral biofilm is a complex ecosystem. O’Hehir said that bacteria trigger infection and can travel to other parts of the body. She also said that controlling oral bacteria with xylitol will protect overall health. Lecturing as a patient and patient advocate, Richard Longland, founder of The Arthroplasty Patient Foundation, built on O’Hehir’s presentation, saying, “Bacterial biofilms are very sophisticated bugs that most people don’t understand.” He cited a striking statistic: “550,000 people are dying annually from chronic bacterial infections.” Longland also shared a clip from his documentary, Why Am I Still Sick?. His film features interviews with 18 different experts on biofilm.

Presenters respond to audience questions during a Q & A panel.

Dr. Lon Jones, an osteopathic physician who developed Xlear Nasal Spray, and Jerry Bozeman closed day 2 of the conference with a lecture on nasal xylitol. Dr. Jones said that xylitol helps the nose to clean itself out easier. “Xylitol has a major impact on bacteria’s ability to hold on in the body,” said Dr. Jones. However, Dr. Jones said xylitol is not a 1-time fix. Xylitol in Action After learning about the function and benefits of xylitol and its connection to overall body health, audience members were treated to the third day of lectures, which focused on the implementation of xylitol and the benefits of prevention in dentistry. The day included lectures and study presentations from Dr. James Stenger, Dr. Peter Allen, Dr. Pentti Alanen, the dental hygienist contest winners, and Dr. Doyle Williams. Dr. Stenger opened the day’s lectures with a presentation on current research. He was followed by Dr. Peter Allen, CEO, Ministry of Health, Belize, who was involved with the Belize Xylitol Study with Dr. Mäkinen. Dr. Pentti Alanen honed in on the importance of the prevention of caries and the need for health promotion. He said that prevention of dental decay has some basic requirements: the measure has to be clinically effective and safe, the price has to be reasonable, the use and delivery has to be simple, and the clients have to accept it. Xylitol fulfills these requirements, according to Dr. Alanen. He also noted that the role of education in preventing caries is key. Building on the momentum and pro-oral-care education that Dr. Alanen stirred up, Xlear’s Spry Dental Defense Project contest winners showed xylitol education in action. The dental hygienist contest winners shared with the audience how they have presented xylitol directly to their patients. The 5 winners were Carla Gantz, RDH, Sandra Dlugosz, RDH, Cindy Schoeneninger, RDH, Helen Fortner, RDH, BSDH, and Donna Grzegorek, RDH. Dr. Doyle Williams, the Chief Dental Officer at DentaQuest, wrapped up the event with his lecture, “Moving Xylitol into Insurance Benefits.” He noted that the dentists are a huge part of health care as many systemic conditions can be detected by an oral exam. Dr. Williams believes the correct approach to oral health problems in through “preventistry.” Through a website, pamphlets, television, radio, and a Preventistry campaign, Dr. Williams is striving to spread the oral health message to the public. According to Dr. Williams, the Oral Health Center has a xylitol pilot program. Results have included remineralization of early lesions, increased salivary flow, and a raise in oral pH. Bringing together health professionals and leading researchers in sunny Cancún, Xlear’s Xylitol Conference proved to be the perfect mix of education, collaboration, and forward thinking. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that! —Elyse Fetherman

Dental Learning


Photo credit: Ryan Hogan

lear, Inc. held its 3rd Educational Conference on Xylitol from February 13-19, in Cancún, Mexico. The program consisted of 3 half-day seminars, featuring presentations and panel discussion from leading researchers and health professionals on the health benefits of xylitol. Clinically tested for more than 25 years, regular use of xylitol has been shown to reduce instances of tooth decay by up to 80%, according to research findings.