As a natural sweetener, xylitol has been used in chewing gum and mints for years upon years. Recent studies from the University of Washington have shown more positive benefits to the sugar compound than previously imagined.
"Adding particles packed with antimicrobial drugs to a filling creates a line of defense against cavity-causing bacteria," says Hatton. "But traditionally there's only been enough drug to last a few weeks. Through this research we discovered a combination of drugs and silica glass that organize themselves on a molecule-by-molecule basis to maximize drug density, with enough supply to last years." This discovery of using antimicrobials which self-assemble means the team can pack 50 times as much of the bacteria-fighting drugs into the particles.
Of those examined in the study - representative of the more than 14,000 New Zealanders living in aged care - recently published in the journal Gerodontology, about half had severely impaired cognitive function, and more than a third required fillings or extractions. Those with severely impaired cognitive function had greater numbers of teeth with decay. They also had higher oral debris scores, reflecting poorer daily oral hygiene care.