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Study finds oral syrup may prevent tooth decay in children

Children who consume a syrup containing the naturally occurring sweetener xylitol may be less likely to develop tooth decay, according to an article in a recent issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Washington School of Dentistry evaluated the effectiveness of xylitol-containing oral syrup among 94 children aged 9 to 15 months in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where early childhood tooth decay is a serious health problem.

Participants in two active treatment groups received xylitol syrup divided into two doses (33 children) or three doses (32 children) per day. Twenty-nine children in a control group received a single smaller dose of xylitol syrup per day, because the internal review committee did not permit the use of a placebo.

After an average of 10.5 months, 24 percent of the children who received two doses of xylitol per day and 41 percent of the children who received three doses of xylitol per day developed decay, compared with 52 percent of the control group. The average numbers of decayed teeth were 0.6 in the two-dose xylitol group, one in the three-dose xylitol group 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 percent of decayed teeth," the authors wrote. "Dividing the 8 grams into three doses did not increase the effectiveness of the treatment."

More research is needed to develop strategies for optimal public health but in populations with high rates of tooth decay xylitol likely is a cost-effective preventive measure, the authors wrote.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

8/3/2009

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