Fact: In the U.S., tooth decay was rank first in health problem closely followed second is common cold.
It is found that there are at least one cavity per American and three quaters have their first cavity before age of five.
Dentists are starting to see young children, even toddlers coming to them with a cavities in mouth seeking their profession.
This syndrome is commonly known as baby bottle or bottle-mouth tooth decay.
One of the reasons is because of their bedtime habits; being put to bed with a bottle containing a sweet liquid, such as milk or fruit juice. The sugar in the liquid then combines with bacteria in the mouth, setting off a chain reaction that causes decay and, left untreated, can and frequently does lead to problems that affect developing permanent teeth. Surprisingly, however, the answer to preventing early childhood cavities may come in the form of something sweet.
In a recent study, young children who were given a syrup containing xylitol, a naturally occurring sweetener that’s found in plants and fruits, were less likely to develop decay in their primary teeth. Previous studies have shown that chewing gum and lozenges containing xylitol were effective in preventing tooth decay in school-age children with permanent teeth, but this was the first study to evaluate its efficacy in toddlers.
The study, led by Peter Milgrom, D.D.S., of the University of Washington, Seattle, involved 94 children, 9 to 15 months old, from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where early childhood cavities are a serious health care problem. Two groups received 8 grams of xylitol syrup per day; one group of 33 received their 8 grams in two 4 gram doses, while 32 children received 8 grams in three 2.67 gram doses. A control group of 29 children received one dose of 2.67 grams, as health officials in the Marshall Islands didn’t allow researchers to use a placebo.
After an average of 10.5 months, 24.2 percent of children in the two-dose group had tooth decay, as did 40.6 percent of children in the three-dose group. In the control group, 51.7 got tooth decay. There were also fewer decayed teeth on average in the 8 grams per day groups; 0.6 in the two-dose group and one in the three-dose group, compared to 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 researchers concluded.
The researchers say their results show for the first time, to their knowledge, that xylitol is effective in the prevention of tooth decay in the teeth of toddlers, and that in populations with high rates of tooth decay, xylitol is likely to be a good preventive measure and a cost-effective one, too. “Poor children experience rates (of 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.”
In an accompanying editorial, Burton L. Edelstein, D.D.S., of the College of Dental Medicine at Columbia University, said the findings were “encouraging” and show that “xylitol application holds strong promise to significantly dampen early childhood (cavities).” He says xylitol treatment will likely become a routine element of early childhood oral hygiene, as is fluoride varnish application, but added that because the prevalence of early childhood cavities remained at 24 to 41 percent among the treated children in the trail, is not the ‘silver bullet’ that is going to solve the problem.
Xylitol is FDA-approved and has been used as a food additive for several decades. Today, the sweetener can be found over the counter in many forms, such as mints, chewable tablets, lozenges, toothpastes, mouthwashes and cough mixtures.