ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
CANCER
Vitamin D Good for Breast Cancer Patients
Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
Well Water Might Raise Bladder Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Children's Bath Products Contain Contaminants
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
DIET, NUTRITION
Six Healthy-Sounding Foods That Really Aren't
Eating Nuts May Help Cholesterol Levels
Compound in Berries May Lessen Sun Damage
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
Gas Cooking Might Up Your Cancer Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
Time Teaches Brain to Recognize Objects
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
FITNESS
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Vigorous Treadmill Workout Curbs Appetite Hormones
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Dr Churchill & Ashley Pelton Interview 1 of 4
Hoping for a Happy Family Holiday? Here's How
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Small Cuts in Salt Intake Spur Big Drops in Heart Trouble
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Teen Internet Addicts More Likely to Self-Harm: Study
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Optimism May Boost Immune System
PAIN
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Natural Therapies for Menopause
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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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