Xylitol in the News: Reading Beyond the HeadlinesSubmitted by Bob-45 on Wed, 01/30/2013 - 22:33
Wednesday, January 30th 2013 at 5:00 am
Dr. Ellie Phillips
Earlier this month a study called the "Xylitol for Adult Caries Trial" was published in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Several of my dental friends contacted me, concerned to find out what was going on. If you look closely at the study, the results are not surprising, but the amazing thing was how quickly it reached the front page of the New York Times Health Section. I guess the conclusion of the study may seem shocking at first glance, because researchers found xylitol did not significantly reduce cavities in adults who are at high risk for decay.
The researchers confirmed xylitol has been shown to be successful in reducing cavities for over 50 years in Europe, Asia and even in the US. These studies, however, have mainly focused on children and adolescents, so this new study took a look at adults in the US with a high rate of cavities. The hypothesis was that 5 grams of xylitol could stop new cavities in selected clinic patients. After two and a half years, the conclusion was that xylitol had only reduced decay by 10%, which was not significant.
The results did not surprise me, nor a well-respected lecturer, Dr Graeme Milicich from New Zealand. His comment was, "Water can put out a fire, but a cup of water is not going to deal with a house fire. The people selected in this study were high-risk patients, so throwing a cup of water at the problem, without any other intervention, is obviously not going to deal with it". The patients in this study had serious decay problems and many had half their teeth missing. They experienced about 4 new cavities a year, yet it does not appear anyone addressed their lifestyle or other risk factors.