What were we saying about health news sometimes being a little crazy-making?
About a month ago, a new xylitol study found that lozenges made with the stuff might not actually be all that great at reducing tooth decay. This month:
But this paper, published in the Journal of Dental Research, is a true follow-up: a reanalysis of data from the earlier study. That one looked at overall effect. The new study examined xylitol’s effect on different tooth surfaces.
“When the xylitol versus placebo caries-preventive effects were analyzed by lumping all tooth surfaces together, the overall effect was nonsignificant: 11% less caries in the xylitol group versus placebo,” [lead author] Dr. [André] Ritter said. “But when we analyzed the xylitol versus placebo caries-preventive effects by separating the tooth surfaces, the positive effects of xylitol on root surfaces were clear: 40% less root caries in the xylitol group versus placebo.”
Sounds impressive. Yet as Dr. Ritter noted, “While our analysis shows that the caries preventive effect of xylitol…was statistically significant, the magnitude of the risk-reduction effect was clinically modest.” It may be helpful for some, but xylitol “is not the silver bullet,” he added.
Truly, no single intervention is apt to be a panacea. Many factors play a role in tooth decay.