Tooth Decay Prevention
Cavities, technically called dental caries, are caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus mutans . This bacteria lives in the mouth and thrives on sugar and other carbohydrates. In the presence of carbohydrates, S. mutans produces acids that dissolve the enamel of teeth, causing cavities.
Strong evidence indicates that
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Double-blind studies enrolling almost 4,000 people, mostly children, have found that the natural sugar xylitol
In one of the largest of these trials, researchers tested gum sweetened with various concentrations of xylitol and/or sorbitol against gum sweetened with sucrose and a control group receiving no gum.
Another series of studies suggests that children acquire cavity-causing bacteria from their mothers, and that regular use of xylitol by a mother of a newborn child may provide long lasting protection to the child as well.
Xylitol is thought to prevent cavities by inhibiting the growth of the
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
Another sugar substitute called sorbitol may work as well as xylitol for the prevention of cavities in children. 3
Friendly bacteria (
One study failed to find benefit through the use of calcium-rich chewing gum.
11. Isokangas P, Soderling E, Pienihakkinen K, et al. Occurrence of dental decay after maternal consumption of xylitol chewing gum, a follow-up from 0 to 5 years of age. J Dent Res . 2000;79:1885-1889.
14. Nase L, Hatakka K, Savilahti E, et al. Effect of long-term consumption of a probiotic bacterium, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, in milk on dental caries and caries risk in children. Caries Res . 2001;35:412-420.
19. Weiss EI, Kozlovsky A, Steinberg D, et al. A high molecular mass cranberry constituent reduces mutans streptococci level in saliva and inhibits in vitro adhesion to hydroxyapatite. FEMS Microbiol Lett . 2004;232:89-92.
22. Tagashira M, Uchiyama K, Yoshimura T, et al. Inhibition by hop bract polyphenols of cellular adherence and water-insoluble glucan synthesis of mutans streptococci. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1997;61:332-335.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Medical Review Board
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