Tooth decay in toddlers can be treated with the topical syrup xylitol, which is a naturally occurring non-cavity-causing sweetener, researchers at the University of Washington have suggested.
For the study, children 6 to 15 months old were given oral doses of xylitol in fruit-flavored syrup daily to determine whether the substance can prevent early-childhood tooth decay, or 'caries'.
The study showed that nearly 76 percent of the children in the group who received xylitol were free of tooth decay by the end of the study, compared with 48 percent of the children in the group that did not receive the substance.
Xylitol, a five-carbon sugar alcohol that is used as a sugar substitute, can be administered in the form of chewing gum, lozenges, or syrup.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved xylitol's use in food ince 1963 and classifies the substance as safe.
Their results were presented during the 86th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research.