ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Garlic Yields Up Its Health Secret
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
CANCER
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
Multiple Screening Strategy Boosts Cervical Cancer Detection
CAREGIVING
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
DIABETES
Findings Challenge Tight Glucose Control for Critically Ill Patients
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Adults Need To Get Thier Food Facts Straight
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
Breakfast Eggs Keep Folks on Diet
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Pilots May Face Greater Cancer Risk
Flame-Retardant Chemical Linked to Conception Problems
Arsenic in Drinking Water Raises Diabetes Risk
EYE CARE, VISION
'Blind' Man Navigates Obstacle Course Without Error
Eye Test Could Spot Diabetes Vision Trouble Early
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
FITNESS
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Any Old Cane Won't Do
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
Shedding Light on Why Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Wood Fires Can Harm the Youngest Lungs
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
MENTAL HEALTH
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Pregnant Women Exposed To Certain Pollutants Could Lower Childs IQ
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
SENIORS
Want Better Health in the New Year, Add Exercise to Your Day
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
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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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