Some dentists and public health officials speculate that xylitol, a naturally-occurring sugar, may become a regular component of dental care for children in the future.
"What I think will happen first is that when you come in to the dentist and get fluoride put on your teeth, you may come in and get xylitol on your teeth as well," pediatric dentist Tara Schafer, interim chair of the department of pediatric dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It may end up being something that dentists prescribe ... like a xylitol rinse."
According to a study appearing in this month's issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, xylitol syrup fights the bacteria in the mouth which cause cavities and tooth decay and may even be more effective than fluoride for dental health.
The lead author, Dr Peter Milgrom, a professor of dental public health sciences at the University of Washington, said that xylitol resulted in twice the reduction in tooth decay as fluoride treatments in the study and may be a cost-effective way to provide dental care to children in high-risk populations.
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