Skip to content

Children's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Sweetener May Prevent Cavities in Toddlers

Sugar Substitute Xylitol Prevents Tooth Decay by Acting as an Antibacterial Agent
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

July 6, 2009 -- An oral syrup containing a naturally occurring sweetener called xylitol can prevent cavities in toddlers, according to a new study.

Reporting in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University of Washington researchers say cavities in early childhood are increasing in prevalence, especially in the poor.

But that could change, the authors say, if parents give teething babies and toddlers xylitol, a low-calorie sweetener that also prevents tooth decay by acting as an antibacterial agent against organisms that cause cavities.

“Poor children experience rates (of caries, also known as cavities) twice as high as those of their more affluent peers, and their disease is more likely to be untreated,” the authors write. “Poor oral health affects diet and nutrition and significantly diminishes quality of life. However, tooth decay is a disease that is largely preventable.”

Previous research has shown that chewing gum or lozenges containing xylitol helps prevent tooth decay in permanent teeth, the researchers write.

But they used an oral syrup containing xylitol in their study, which involved 94 participants between 9-15 months of age who live in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where early childhood tooth decay is a serious public health problem.

Two treatment groups received 8 grams of xylitol syrup per day. One group of 33 received their 8 grams of  xylitol in two 4 gram doses, and 32 children received 8 grams in three 2.67 gram doses. A control group of 29 young children received one dose of 2.67 grams. Health officials in the Marshall Islands didn’t allow researchers to use a placebo, so the control group received some xylitol.

After an average of 10.5 months, 24.2% of children receiving two xylitol doses (equal to 8 grams) had tooth decay, as did 40.6% of children getting three daily doses (equal to 8 grams). In the control group, 51.7% got tooth decay.

There were fewer decayed teeth on average in the 8 grams per day groups as well. The findings of the two groups getting 8 grams per day were not statistically different.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
 
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.
 

worried kid
fitArticle
boy on father's shoulder
Article
 
Child with red rash on cheeks
Slideshow
girl thinking
Article
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

babyapp
New
Child with adhd
Slideshow
 
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
Syringes and graph illustration
Tool