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Acta Odontol Scand. 2004 Oct;62(5):245-50.

Salivary mutans streptococci and dental caries in three-year-old children after maternal exposure to chewing gums containing combinations of xylitol, sorbitol, chlorhexidine, and fluoride.

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Public Dental Clinic, Varberg, Sweden.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of maternal use of chewing gums containing combinations of xylitol, sorbitol, chlorhexidine, and fluoride on salivary mutans streptococci (MS) counts and caries prevalence in the mothers' 3-year-old children. After screening 416 women with newborn babies, 173 mothers with high counts of salivary MS were randomly assigned into 3 experimental chewing gum groups containing (A) xylitol (n = 61), (B) chlorhexidine/xylitol/sorbitol (n = 55), and (C) sodium fluoride/xylitol/ sorbitol (n = 57). Mothers with low or medium MS counts formed a reference group (D) without any intervention (n = 232). The participants in the experimental groups were instructed to chew one piece of the gum for 5 min 3 times a day. The chewing regimen started when the child was 6 months old and was terminated 1 year later. The outcome measures were salivary MS counts and caries prevalence at the age of 3 years. Bacterial enumeration was carried out with a chair-side technique and caries (defs) was scored by clinical examination. Medium and high counts of salivary MS were found in 13%, 16%, and 22% in groups A, B, and C, respectively. The mean defs was 0.1 in group A, 0.2 in group B, and 0.4 in group C. The differences concerning salivary MS and caries were not statistically significant. The MS counts and caries prevalence in children of mothers with low MS counts (group D) were similar to those found in groups A and B. In conclusion, lower but non-significant levels of salivary MS and dental decay were observed in 3-year-old children to mothers who used high-content xylitol gums compared with those who used lower amounts of xylitol. The efficiency of this type of targeted intervention in a low-caries community may be questioned.

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