Science grows for xylitol’s tooth health benefits

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dental caries

Formulating products with xylitol may reduce the development of tooth decay, according to a new study from the US.

Children consuming eight grams per day of xylitol had 1.3 few decayed teeth, compared to children consuming only 2.7 grams per day of the sweetener, report researchers from the University of Washington in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine

“This study is the first (to our knowledge) to demonstrate that xylitol topical oral syrup (8 g/d) divided into 2 or 3 doses given during primary tooth eruption in children aged 15 to 25 months reduces tooth decay,”​ wrote the researchers, led by Peter Milgrom.

“Furthermore, up to 70 per cent of decayed teeth could be prevented by xylitol […] in this setting.”

The study was welcomed by Burton Edelstein from Columbia University. In an accompanying editorial, Dr Edelstein said that results were “encouraging” ​that xylitol “holds strong promise to significantly dampen early childhood caries occurrence”​.

Tooth decay can start as early as age 22 months in some children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about 28 per cent of all American toddlers and pre-schoolers are affected by tooth decay.

Milgrom and his co-workers recruited 94 children aged between 9 and15 months in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and randomly assigned them to one of three groups: Two groups received eight grams of xylitol per day as two or three doses, while the third group received a single 2.67 gram dose of xylitol day.

After an average of 10.5 months of study, the researchers observed that 24.2 and 40.6 per cent of the groups receiving two or three doses of xylitol per day had tooth decay, while 51.7 per cent of the control group experienced tooth decay.

The average numbers of decayed teeth were 0.6 and 1.0 in the two- and three-dose xylitol groups, and 1.9 in the control group.

"Our results suggest that exposure to xylitol (8 grams per day) in a twice-daily topical oral syrup during primary tooth eruption could prevent up to 70 per cent of decayed teeth,"​ wrote the authors.

The researchers noted that more research is required in order to optimize the delivery vehicles and strategies for public health.

The new study used raw materials donated by Danisco USA and was sponsored by Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau and by a grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Source: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
Volume 163, Number 7, Pages 601-607
"Xylitol Pediatric Topical Oral Syrup to Prevent Dental Caries: A Double-blind Randomized Clinical Trial of Efficacy"
Authors: P. Milgrom, K.A. Ly, O.K. Tut, L. Mancl, M.C. Roberts, K. Briand, M.J. Gancio

Editorial: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine
Volume 163, Number 7, Pages 667-668
“Xylitol Could Help Solve Problem of Early-Childhood Tooth Decay”
Author: B.L. Edelstein

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