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Sugar substitute may preserve dental health in children
Updated: 7/7/2009 7:00:28 PM

Sugar substitute may preserve dental health in children Cavities occurring in early childhood are recognized as a significant dental health problem by the American Dental Association, but a new study demonstrates that giving children a particular sugar substitute might reduce the risk.

The report, which appears in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, says that xylitol syrup, a naturally-occuring sweetener, can help prevent cavities in young children. The treatment might be especially helpful for children without dental insurance or with reduced access to care, who otherwise are at greater risk.

"Poor children experience rates twice as high as those of their more affluent peers, and their disease is more likely to be untreated," the authors write.

The treatment consisted of giving the syrup to children aged 9 to 15 months who were getting their first teeth in. Dentist Peter Milgrom, who led the study, said xylitol may be a cost-effective way to improve dental care for high-risk populations.

The ADA recommends that a child's first dental checkup happen within six months of the first tooth appearing and no later than 12 months of age.

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