Dear Dr. Philips,
My 18 month old daughter has had a lot of ear infections despite being breastfed for 15 months. We saw an ENT who said we could have tubes put in. I would rather not do the tubes if they are not absolutely necessary. Do you think Xylitol would help reduce my daughters ear infections. How much should I give her and how often?
The harmful bacteria of the mouth and throat grow and multiply in an acidic environment.
Sometimes this acidity is caused by diet or drinks ( soda, apple juice, citrus drinks etc.)
Sometimes the acidity is caused through mouth breathing where the exhaled CO2 becomes moist with mouth water and forms an acid. (It is a little more complicated than this but that is the general idea!).
If your child has bacterial middle ear infections there are usually two factors.
The ear tubes connect with the mouth area at the back of the throat. If these tubes are at a low and flat angle this allows liquids to flow from the mouth into the tubes ( there is nothing you can do about the shape of the throat and tubes. As your child grows the angle of the ear tubes from the throat improves).
Any liquids in these tubes will breed bacteria. You can make sure this liquid is naturally anti-bacterial and also non-acidic ( in other words, make sure this liquid contains xylitol).
Xylitol provides many healthy and helpful benefits. Giving your child xylitol will make the mouth liquids alkaline and also provide a natural anti-bacterial liquid to gradually wipe out harmful acid-loving bacteria. Harmful bacteria in these ear tubes will be starved, stopped from producing acids and gradually eliminated.
It takes a few weeks to see any effect but by about six months you may have eliminated all of them so start as soon as possible.
I would try to give your daughter at least 6.5 grams of xylitol each day. You can buy granular xylitol (online or a health food store) and mix with water and or her favorite drink (providing this drink is not an acidic juice).
You can bake xylitol into cookies and brownies etc and it will work just as well.
Put xylitol into her sippy cup a quarter teaspoon mixed with water tastes good especially just before bedtime.
You can encourage her to eat fruit or cereal with xylitol on it. You can give your child 100 percent xylitol candies, gum or mints if you think they are the appropriate form for her chewing and spitting ability. Zellies children gum is small and designed as a first time gum. A quick chew and spit out but usually recommended for 3 year olds and I think your daughter is a little young for this.
You could use a solution of xylitol to clean her teeth at night or use the Spiffies baby tooth wipes which come in delicious flavors (available on line).
So if you eliminate the acidity, cut down on white sugar and use at least 6.5 grams of xylitol daily in any form, I believe you will see good effects. The benefits of xylitol plateau at around 10 grams a day.
Take care and please feel free to contact me if you need more information,
Dental Health for Everyone!
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Rochester NY 14623