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Xylitol Effective at Preventing Tooth Decay in Toddlers

Last Updated: July 08, 2009.

The antibacterial agent xylitol in syrup form can prevent up to 70 percent of cavities in the primary teeth of young children, according to a study in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- The antibacterial agent xylitol in syrup form can prevent up to 70 percent of cavities in the primary teeth of young children, according to a study in the July issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Peter Milgrom, D.D.S., of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues randomized 108 children (ages 9 to 15 months) to receive either two daily doses of xylitol oral syrup (4 grams each) and one dose of sorbitol; three daily doses of xylitol oral syrup (2.67 grams each); or one daily dose of xylitol oral syrup (2.67 grams) and two doses of sorbitol (control). The study outcome was the number of primary teeth with cavities at follow-up (mean follow-up, 10.5 months).

The researchers found that 51.7 percent of the children in the control group had cavities compared with 40.6 percent in the xylitol three-dose group and 24.2 percent in the xylitol two-dose group. The mean number of teeth with cavities was 1.9 in the control group, 1.0 in the xylitol three-dose group, and 0.6 in the two-dose group.

"Our results suggest that exposure to xylitol (8 grams/day) in a twice-daily topical oral syrup during primary tooth eruption could prevent up to 70 percent of decayed teeth. Dividing the 8 grams into three doses did not increase the effectiveness of the treatment. These results provide evidence for the first time (to our knowledge) that xylitol is effective for the prevention of decay in primary teeth of toddlers," the authors conclude.

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