THURSDAY, July 24, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Gummy bears with the sugar substitute xylitol may help prevent tooth decay in children, according to a U.S. study.
Researchers gave children four xylitol-sweetened gummy bears three times a day during school hours. After six weeks, there were significant reductions in the levels of harmful mutans streptococci (MS) bacteria in the children's plaque. MS is known to cause tooth decay.
Xylitol, a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol that's frequently used as a sweetener, has been shown to reduce levels of MS. Xylitol chewing gums are available but aren't considered suitable for younger children.
"For xylitol to be successfully used in oral health promotion programs amongst primary school children, an effective means of delivering xylitol must be identified. Gummy bears would seem to be more ideal than chewing gum," research leader Kiet A. Ly, of the University of Washington, said in a BioMed Central news release.
"Based on our findings, it is feasible to develop a clinical trial of a gummy-based (cavity) prevention program. Such a study is now being carried out in the East Cleveland primary school district," Ly said.
The findings were published in the journal BMC Oral Health.
The American Dental Association has more about tooth decay.