Xylitol is a safe dental caries preventive when incorporated into chewing gum or confections used habitually. The goal of this paper is to identify and assess the work on xylitol and other polyols and dental caries since 2008. Xylitol is effective when used by the mother prenatally or after delivery to prevent mutans transmission and subsequent dental caries in the offspring. One new completed trial confirmed that children of mothers who used xylitol lozenges after delivery had less dental caries than a comparison group. A similar study confirmed that the use of xylitol gum by the mother either prevented or postponed MS transmission to the offspring. Xylitol use among schoolchildren delivered via a gummy bear confection reduced S. mutans levels, but a once per day use of xylitol-containing toothpaste did not. Randomized trials, with caries outcomes, assessing xylitol-containing lozenges in adults and xylitol-containing gummy bears in children will release results in the coming year. Other studies are ongoing but are not systematic and will fail to answer important questions about how xylitol, or other polyols, can address the global dental caries problem.
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