Sunday, January 23, 2011
Early childhood caries (ECC), a severe deterioration of infants’ teeth due to bacterial infection, is a major global public health concern and its prevalence is rising, mostly within poor populations. Children with ECC are three times more likely than children without ECC to develop tooth decay in their permanent teeth, and ECC has a negative effect on oral health in general.1
Xylitol Acts as an Antibacterial Agent
Xylitol, a five-carbon sugar alcohol commonly used as a sweetener in foods, gum, and oral health products,2 reduces plaque formation and bacterial adherence by exerting a selective antibacterial action against mutans streptococci, the main bacterial species in human tooth decay.1 However, the concentrations of xylitol in these products are generally too low to have anticariogenic effects.
Efficacy of Xylitol Shown in a Randomized Clinical Trial
A study by Milgrom and colleagues was the first to assess the efficacy of xylitol pediatric topical syrup in the reduction of the incidence of tooth decay.1 Children at high risk for ECC, aged from 15 to 25 months, were followed for 12 months in a double-blind randomized clinical trial. A total of 94 children were randomized to one of three groups, two active groups each receiving oral xylitol (8 g/day) divided into 2 or 3 doses, and a control group receiving a single subtherapeutic dose of 2.67 g xylitol. Dose frequency was controlled by dummy doses of sorbitol, a polyol sweetener which has not demonstrated protective effects against caries.
The number of decayed teeth was evaluated and results are shown in the table. Compared to the control group, significantly fewer decayed teeth were observed in the xylitol-2X group and the xylitol-3X group (51.6% vs. 24.25% vs. 40.6%, respectively). There was no significant difference between xylitol treatment groups (p-value = 0.22).
The results of this trial suggest that exposure to xylitol (8 g/day) in a twice-daily topical syrup during primary tooth eruption prevents up to 70% of tooth decay. Dividing 8 g xylitol into 3 doses daily did not significantly change the efficacy of treatment.3,4 The results confirm the position of the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry supporting the importance of xylitol for the prevention of dental carries.1
Adverse Effects and Long-Term Consequences
The most common adverse events of xylitol, such as loose stools and diarrhea, are those most frequently seen after the consumption of polyol sweeteners. There is no published evidence of long-term negative consequences related to the consumption of a specific sweetener during childhood. However, xylitol-based products have been widely available for many years and consumed in several countries with no undesirable effects noted so far.
Xylitol as a Public Health Measure
Xylitol syrup could potentially be a cost-effective measure for the prevention of ECC, especially in high-risk populations. However, further studies are required to establish xylitol effectiveness in real life practice before it can be recommended as a public health measure.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
At Salins Orthodontics, we know the rumors going around – mostly among young people – that once you swallow a piece of chewing gum it will stake a claim and take up residency in your stomach for at least seven years! We really hate to take all the fun out of the mystery, but the truth is that chewing gum, when swallowed, will enter the stomach and move through the digestive system just like any other piece of food and leave the body long before seven years! So, if you ever have accidentally swallowed a piece of gum, there is no need to worry!
This being said, gum does not have any dietary benefits, so while it’s not harmful to swallow, you still want to avoid swallowing it. If you are a gum-chewer, make sure you chew sugarless gum, because gum with sugar can lead to cavities. Sugarless gum still has the same amount of flavor, but with less cavity causing ingredients. You see, when the bacterium in your mouth breaks down sugar, what’s left behind is acid. This acid eats away at the enamel coating of your teeth, causing holes that we call cavities. Cavities can lead to other long term mouth problems if they are not treated in time, so it is best to try and avoid overexposing your teeth to too many harmful substances!
Happy (sugar-free) gum chewing!
Saturday, January 8, 2011
At Salins Orthodontics, our patients want to get as much out of their treatment as possible. That includes asking a lot of questions and making sure they take care of both their appliances and oral health.
Would you like to learn more about what to expect during orthodontic treatment, from someone with firsthand experience? Well, our friends at the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recently developed the Braces Brigade blog, where past, present, as well as future orthodontic patients from coast to coast document their (or their child’s) orthodontic journeys. The blog will serve as a source of guidance for others as the patients undergo orthodontic care.
Our staff at Salins Orthodontics encourages you to visit the Braces Brigade blog to read these great and informative blogs—who knows, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two! As always, don’t hesitate to give us a call at our South San Francisco or Union City offices if you have any questions about the Braces Brigade or your own orthodontic treatment with Dr. Salins!
Happy New Year!