ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
CANCER
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
More Cancer Tests Mean More False-Positive Results
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
What Moms Learned May Be Passed to Offspring
Babies Born in High Pollen Months at Wheezing Risk
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
DIABETES
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Less May Slow Aging Process
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Americans Losing Sight of Eye Health
Eye Problems, Hearing Loss May Be Linked
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
FITNESS
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Eating More Soy May Be Good For Your Lung Function
Quit Smoking the Holistic Way
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Too Many Infants Short on Vitamin D
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
Even Young Kids Can Learn CPR
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
As You Age, Better Health Means Better Sex
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
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A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth

TUESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- A new sweet treat that actually prevents children's cavities should please children and their parents, researchers say.

The tasty syrup, which contains the sugar substitute xylitol, prevented early decay in infants' teeth and may play a role in protecting permanent teeth, says a team from the United States and the Marshall Islands, in the South Pacific.

Xylitol has long been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is already found in food products such as chewing gum.

The compound protects children's teeth by reducing the number of oral bacteria that cause decay, explained study author Dr. Peter Milgrom, a professor of dental public health sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle.

"I kind of look at tooth decay as a kind of malnutrition," he added. A diet high in sugar promotes the bacteria that take in sugars, metabolize them, and produce the lactic acid that creates tooth decay, the researcher said.

The study involved 102 children from the Marshall Islands, ranging from 6 to 15 months of age. The researchers picked these islands as the study site, because childhood tooth decay occurs there at rates that are nearly triple that seen among kids on the mainland.

According to the researchers, 76 percent of the children whose caretaker applied the xylitol-laden syrup to their teeth three times a day were free of cavities a year later.

That compares to 48 percent of the children who did not receive daily xylitol applications.

Milgrom was expected to present the results this week at the annual meeting of the International Association for Dental Research in Toronto.

"It's a real problem that we've got all this dental disease in kids, and we really don't have all the tools we need to battle it," he said. "Of course, we knew that xylitol had these benefits for teeth from other studies that have been done, but they had never been done in small children. So, we sort of put two and two together," he added.

The bacteria, which are the "bad actors" here, can't metabolize sugars from xylitol, and so they die off, Milgrom explained. Only the so-called "good" bacteria that do not create decay and can tolerate being around xylitol live, he said.

Preventing early tooth decay is important to children's overall health in a number of ways, Milgrom added. He said that children with early decay tend to be underweight, often fail to thrive, and don't eat or sleep well, which affects their performance in preschool.

Early tooth decay also is a problem among many children in the United States, according to Dr. Paul Casamassimo, a professor of pediatric dentistry at Ohio State University and a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

For example, in Ohio, about half of five-year-olds have some tooth decay, he said. That number tends to be higher in minority communities because of poor diets and lack of access to dentistry.

Decay in baby teeth is a "gateway disease that leads to decay in permanent teeth," Casamassimo added. "It's probably related to the fact these people have these bacterial factors in their mouths that continue on."

The study, which was co-authored by researchers from the Marshall Islands Ministry of Health, was funded by the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the HRSA Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Milgrom said none of the researchers have any financial ties to manufacturers of xylitol.
More information

There's more on keeping kids' teeth healthy at the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

- Carolyn Colwel

SOURCES: Paul Casamassimo, D.D.S., professor, pediatric dentistry, College of Dentistry, Ohio State University, chief of dentistry, Nationwide Children's Hopsital, Columbus, Ohio, and spokesman, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry; Peter Milgrom, D.D.S., professor, dental public health sciences, University of Washington, Seattle; July 5, 2008, presentation, International Association for Dental Research annual meeting, Toronto

Last Updated: July 08, 2008

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