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Sherri Richards, Published October 23 2013

Spiffies tooth wipes let parents wipe baby teeth clean

FARGO – At my daughter’s last dentist appointment, the hygienist gave her a xylitol sucker, noting that these sweet treats could help prevent cavities.

Considering the large dental bill she gave me, I was intrigued.

That’s why Spiffies Tooth Wipes caught my eye. The individually wrapped towelettes contain a “therapeutic dose” of xylitol, a naturally occurring alcohol found in plant material that reduces cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.

Spiffies were developed by a pediatrician who saw too many cases of preventable early childhood tooth decay. An independent study by a dental school found the wipes reduced the number of cavities in babies with regular use, packaging materials say.

The tooth wipes resemble a restaurant wet wipe. Each towel is 4 inches by 2¾ inches, and packaged in its own wrapper. They come in grape and apple flavors, and are fluoride-free.

A 20-count box costs about $5.50 at Walgreens.com.

You wrap the wipe around your index finger, and then gently wipe your baby (over 4 months), toddler or preschooler’s front and back teeth, gums, inside cheeks and tongue.

The wipes can also be used chilled to ease teething pain.

I decided to try some sample Spiffies on my 2-year-old son, who enjoys chewing on his toothbrush more than having his teeth brushed.

I wrapped an apple-flavored wipe around my finger and started to wipe his teeth. Immediately he clamped down on my finger with his tiny teeth so hard I yelped.

I persevered through the biting only to have him spit repeatedly, like there was a bad taste in his mouth.

The second try with the grape-flavored wipes went better: no spitting, some biting.

With time he became more accepting of the dental wipe-down, though he’s still prone to chomp my finger.

I liked that by using the wipes, I could make sure I was getting all surfaces of each tooth. But there’s something satisfying about the lather of toothpaste and the scrubbing brush bristles that is missing with the tooth wipes. (The Spiffies brand also makes a xylitol “tooth brushing liquid.”)

I love how mess-free and convenient the wipes are, especially for traveling. I brought several on an overnight trip to my brother and sister-in-law’s home, where they tried the wipes on their 3- and 1-year-old daughters. Both girls liked the flavors, though biting was again an issue for the baby.

Bottom line: Spiffies Tooth Wipes let parents conveniently clean teeth and incorporate xylitol into baby’s dental routine. Just watch out for your finger.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556