Many studies have found that xylitol helps solve dental health problems. Its properties prevent bacteria from flourishing in the mouth, inhibiting tooth decay and cavity growth. These studies, however, have not taken into account the long-term effects which xylitol has after its use is suspended. Have you ever wondered what the long lasting effects of xylitol are?

In a study done from 2008-2010, Campus et al., analyzed the effects of xylitol in children ages 7-9. The researchers chose children who were considered “high-risk caries subjects;” they had 2-3 cavities and could easily get more. 204 of the screened children matched the criteria and 157 ended up completing the experiment. Researchers randomly divided the participating children into one of two groups—one which would chew gum containing a high dosage of xylitol and the other group would be the control, chewing gum without xylitol.

The study consisted of two parts. First, there was a six-month period where the researchers asked the xylitol group to chew two pieces of xylitol gum for five minutes, five times a day. The study also required the participants to chew the gum at specified times—after each meal or snack. The xylitol gum had 1.16 grams of xylitol in each piece, meaning participants in the xylitol group ingested 11.6 grams of xylitol a day. Before the study began, researchers evaluated all the participants and created a baseline. After the six-month period, the children stopped chewing the gum and were evaluated.

The second portion of the study attempted to answer the major question in xylitol use, whether it has long-term effects even after someone stops using it. After two years the researchers asked the participants to return for testing. The researchers measured the amounts of two types of bacteria, mutans streptococci (MS) and lactobacilli (Lb). MS forms acid which, of course, is harmful to the teeth, and Lb, though generally recognized as a good bacteria, is detected in higher amounts when a person is at high-risk of cavities and tooth decay. Besides the bacteria, the researchers also focused on active cavities on the first permanent molars. There are a few long lasting effects of xylitol if you use them in your life.

At the two year follow-up appointment, researchers found that participants who chewed the xylitol gum had significantly lower amounts of new cavities. Interestingly, the study showed that the bacterial count stayed the same. However, the acid formation, the actual culprit to tooth decay, lessened due to the use xylitol. The reduction of tooth decay and cavities was higher in the female participants, but the researchers tacked this finding to the probability that the girls used the xylitol gum more regularly and had better dental hygiene overall. The effects of Xylitol. In the end, this study observed that even after two years of not chewing the gum, cavity formation and tooth decay reduced due to the use of a high-dosage of xylitol over six months of use.

Summarized by David Munk
Citation:
Campus, Guglielmo, Maria Grazia Cagetti, Silvana Sale, Massimo Petruzzi, Giuliana Solinas, Laura Strohmenger, and Peter Lingstrom. “Six Months of High-dose Xylitol in High-risk Caries Xubjects–a 2-year Randomised, Clinical Trial.” Clinical Oral Investigations 17.3 (2013): 785-91. Pubmed.gov. Web. 21 Apr. 2015.
The lasting effects of Xylitol
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