Sugar preventing tooth decay?

It might sound like an oxymoron, but according to a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the natural sweetener xylitol could be the key to winning the battle against tooth decay in young children.

That's big news – especially for poorer parts of the country, where kids are twice as likely to develop cavities in their baby teeth. It's called baby bottle tooth decay or nursing cavities.

The fact that xylitol is good for your teeth is nothing new. Plenty of studies have shown that chewing xylitol gum or sucking on xylitol lozenges can have a positive effect on permanent teeth. This is the first study to show that it can have the same promising benefits for baby teeth as well.

This time around, however, the researchers evaluated a different form of the natural sweetener. They gave xylitol-containing syrup to a group of kids that were between 9 and 15 months old and found that just 8 grams per day in a twice daily topical oral syrup could prevent up to 70 percent of decayed teeth.

The researchers concluded that "More research is needed to develop vehicles and strategies for optimal public health…"

But why wait for more research?

Xylitol itself is inexpensive, and using it has the potential to save people thousands of dollars in dental costs later on in life.