There are three types of thickening agents you will find on the market for Dysphagia. We will discuss the characteristics of each and help you understand the differences between the three. Before you change any current product you are using be sure to discuss options with your speech language pathologist, doctor, dietitian or other health care provider that is assisting you with your dysphagia management.

Starch-based Powders

Thickening Agent: Maltodextrin

Basic CMYK

Thickening Beverages: These powder thickeners can be mixed with any beverage to get the desired consistency. Starch based powders will be slightly more difficult to use in carbonated, alcoholic and high protein shake /supplement beverages. A clear beverage will appear cloudy and have a slightly grainy texture.

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Thickening Foods: This can be used to thicken food; most manufactures will have recipes for using the thickener. This type of thickener works great if you want to use mold foods or have food hold their shape.

Mixing Tips:

  1. Make sure to mix immediately and thoroughly, it can lump if not mixed thoroughly.
  2. Be sure to wait 1 to 3 minutes for it to reach its proper consistency.
  3. Liquids thickened with a starch based powder will continue to thicken over time.

Shelf Life: 24-36 months unopened

Cost: Least expensive

Use for Pediatrics:

Thick-It– Do not use Thick-It® Instant Food and Beverage Thickener with infants born before 37 weeks gestation. Thick-It® Instant Food and Beverage Thickener should only be used with infants and newborns in consultation with a physician. (Source: Package)

Thick & Easy- We do not recommend any of our products for any children 3 years of age or younger.

Thicken Up– This product is only appropriate for use in individuals greater than 3 years old. (Source: Nestle Website)

 

Gum-based Powders

Thickening Agent: Xanthan or Cellulose Gum with Maltodextrin

Basic CMYK

Thickening Beverages: Gum powder thickeners can be mixed with any beverage to the desired consistency. These thickeners work well in carbonated, alcoholic and hot beverages. Clear beverages remain clear and have a smooth, slightly slippery texture.

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Thickening Foods: This can be used to thicken food; most manufactures will have recipes for using the thickener. Gums do not thicken as “stiff” as starch thickeners. If you want to mold foods or have them hold shape we suggest using the starch.

Mixing Tips:

  1. Make sure to mix immediately and thoroughly, it can lump if not mixed thorough
  2. Requires 3 to 5 minutes to reach consistent depending on the brand
  3. Liquids will hold their consistency over time

Shelf Life: 24-36 months unopened

Cost: Gum powder thickeners will be more expensive than starch thickeners because they are a newer type of thickening agent and the ingredient is more costly.

Use for Pediatrics:

Thick & Easy Clear- We do not recommend any of our products for any children 3 years of age or younger. (Source: Package)

Thicken Up Clear- This product is only appropriate for use in individuals greater than 3 years old. (Source: Nestle Website)

 

Gel Thickener

Thickening Agent: Xanthan Gum

Basic CMYK

Thickening Beverages: Liquid thickeners can be mixed with any beverage to the desired consistency. They work well in hot drinks and carbonated drinks. Clear beverages remain clear and have a smooth, slightly slippery texture.  Gel Thickener requires no waiting time to reach consistency.

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Thickening Foods:  You can thicken foods with gel thickeners. The manufacturer will have recipes for using the gel thickener in foods. Gums do not thicken as “stiff” as starch thickeners. If you want to mold foods or have them old shape we suggest using the starch

Mixing Tips:

  1. Gel liquid thickeners require measuring and vigorous mixing to get them into solution.  It is recommended to use a whisk or shaker bottle to mix.
  2. Liquid thickeners will not lump, but if not mixed adequately the consistency will not be smooth and cohesive.

Shelf Life: 12-24 months unopened

Cost:  Liquid thickeners are more expensive then powders but less then pre-thickened beverages.

Use for Pediatrics:

Simply Thick Simply Thick® thickener is NOT intended for use with preterm or infants under 12 months of age.  Or children under the age of 12 years with a history of NEC.  (Source: Simply Thick Website)

 

Check out our downloadable Thickener Comparison Chart 

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