Recent research published in the Cochrane Library found little evidence that the popular natural sweetener Xylitol prevents tooth decay and cavities. The researchers compiled data from 5,903 participants across 10 studies, but most study methods were so different, the authors could not combine the results. According to lead researcher, Philip Riley of the School of Dentistry at The University of Manchester, “This Cochrane review was produced to assess whether or not xylitol could help prevent tooth decay in children and adults. The evidence we identified did not allow us to make any robust conclusions about the effects of xylitol, and we were unable to prove any benefit in the natural sweetener for preventing tooth decay.

“The limited research on xylitol-containing toothpastes in children may only be relevant to the population studied.”

Riley further added, “For other products containing xylitol we were unable to determine whether they were beneficial. We were particularly surprised to see such a lack of evidence on xylitol-containing chewing gums.”

Xylitol is known for some unwelcome gastrointestinal side effects, including bloating, diarrhea, and laxative effects, but several of the studies that were included in the Cochrane review did not report on this according to Riley. “We expected all studies to report adverse effects as an outcome. Sugar-free gums, sweets, mints and other products are well-known for their gastrointestinal effects and these should be clearly reported in future studies (Manchester, 2015).”

Source of story:

Manchester, U. o. (2015, May 25). “Effect of natural sweetener xylitol in preventing tooth decay still unproven“. Retrieved from Science Daily: