18 Nov 2013

Topical xylitol administration by parents for the promotion of oral health in infants: a caries prevention experiment at a Finnish Public Health Centre

Kauko K. M€akinen 1, Kirsti L. J€arvinen , Carita H. Anttila 2, Leena M. Luntamo 
and Tero Vahlberg 

Institute of Dentistry, University of Turku, Turku, Finland; 2Uusikaupunki Public Health Centre, Uusikaupunki, Finland; 3Department of Biostatistics, Medical Faculty, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.
Objectives: This demonstration programme tested topical use of xylitol as a possible oral health promoting regimen in infants at a Finnish Public Health Centre in 2002–2011. Methods: Parents (usually mothers) began once- or twice-daily administration of a 45% solution of xylitol (2.96 M) onto all available deciduous teeth of their children at the age of approximately 6–8 months. The treatment (xylitol swabbing), which continued till the age of approximately 36 months
(total duration 26–28 months), was carried out using cotton swabs or a children’s toothbrush; the approximate daily xylitol usage was 13.5 mg per each deciduous tooth. Results: At the age of 7 years, caries data on the deciduous dentition of 80 children were compared with those obtained from similar, untreated children (n= 90). Xylitol swabbing resulted in a significant (P< 0.001) reduction in the incidence of enamel and dentine caries compared with the comparison subjects (relative risk 2.1 and 4.0, respectively; 95% confidence intervals 1.42–3.09 and 2.01–7.98, respectively).
Similar findings were obtained when the children were 5 or 6 years old. The treatment reduced the need of tooth filling relative risk and 95% confidence intervals at 7 years: 11.86 and 6.36–22.10, respectively; P< 0.001). Compared with untreated subjects, the oral counts of mutans streptococci were reduced significantly (P< 0.001).
Conclusions: Considerable improvement in dental health was accomplished in infants participating in a topical at-home xylitol administration experiment, which was offered to families in the area by the Public Health Centre as a supplement to standard oral

health care. Caregiver assessment of the programme was mostly rated as high or satisfactory.

International Dental Journal 2013; 63: 210–224

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