Dental benefits of gummy bears revealed

Gummy bear sweets that contain some sugar alcohols could be an effective means of providing xylitol to children, according to a new clinical trial in the US.

The study evaluated the impact of incorporating xylitol, already linked to fighting the harmful mutans streptococci (MS) bacteria, in the traditional confectionery product.

Head researcher Kiet Ly of the University of Washington said that controlled doses of xylitol-containing gummy bears could be a more ideal solution than chewing gum for delivering the sugar alcohol to children as part of a potential oral health programme.

‘For xylitol to be successfully used in oral health promotion programmes amongst primary-school children, an effective means [of delivery] must be identified,’ he stated.

A spokesperson for the British Dental Association (BDA) said that despite the findings, it believes educating children on restricting their consumption of sugary foods, while ensuring a consistent dental hygiene regime, was a more effective solution.

According to the study’s researchers, although gummy bears could provide an effective means of providing xylitol to children, some caution was needed in interpreting the results impact on use in dental hygiene.

Testing on reducing mutans streptococci also indicated that malitol, another sugar alcohol not linked to causing tooth decay, was also found to fight plaque, the study stated.

Researchers said that apart from xylitol, studies into other sugar alcohols like sorbitol had found little evidence that they provide similar benefits.

Xylitol is a cariostatic bulk sweetener that has experienced remarkable growth following its commercialisation in the early 1970s, particularly due to its inclusion as a key ingredient in sugar free chewing gum due to its taste profile and dental benefits.

The study can be viewed on the BMC Oral Health website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6831/8/20/abstract

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