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New Weapon Emerges to Fight Kids' Cavities
Date:7/7/2009

Xylitol syrup may protect baby teeth from decay, much like fluoride, study finds,,

TUESDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- A syrup containing the sugar substitute xylitol helps prevent tooth decay in baby teeth, according to a new study.

Xylitol, approved in the United States for use in food since 1963, acts as an antibacterial agent against organisms that cause cavities. Previous studies showing its effectiveness have mainly involved chewing gum or lozenges in school-age children with permanent teeth.

In the new study, researchers tested the xylitol syrup in 94 children, 9 months to 15 months old, in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, an island chain in the Pacific Ocean where, they said, early childhood tooth decay is a major problem. Two groups of children were given 8 grams of xylitol syrup a day, in either two or three doses, and a third group was given a single 2.67-gram dose of the syrup each day.

Children in third group, which served as a control, or comparison, group, were given a small dose of the syrup because Marshall Island officials would not allow the use of a placebo.

After an average of 10.5 months, tooth decay was found in about 24 percent of the children who had gotten two doses of xylitol syrup a day, 41 percent of children who received three doses of xylitol syrup a day and in 52 percent of children in the control group.

Children in the two-dose group had, on average, 0.6 decayed teeth, compared with 1.0 in the three-dose 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," wrote Dr. Peter Milgrom of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues.

"Dividing the 8 grams into three doses did not increase the effectiveness of the treatment," the researchers said. "These results provide eviden
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