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International Journal of Dentistry
Volume 2010, Article ID 981072, 23 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/981072
Review Article

Sugar Alcohols, Caries Incidence, and Remineralization of Caries Lesions: A Literature Review

Institute of Dentistry, University of Turku, Lemminkäisenkatu 2, 20520 Turku, Finland

Received 27 August 2009; Accepted 15 October 2009

Academic Editor: Figen Seymen

Copyright © 2010 Kauko K. Mäkinen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Remineralization of minor enamel defects is a normal physiological process that is well known to clinicians and researchers in dentistry and oral biology. This process can be facilitated by various dietary and oral hygiene procedures and may also concern dentin caries lesions. Dental caries is reversible if detected and treated sufficiently early. Habitual use of xylitol, a sugar alcohol of the pentitol type, can be associated with significant reduction in caries incidence and with tooth remineralization. Other dietary polyols that can remarkably lower the incidence of caries include erythritol which is a tetritol-type alditol. Based on known molecular parameters of simple dietary alditols, it is conceivable to predict that their efficacy in caries prevention will follow the homologous series, that is, that the number of OH-groups present in the alditol molecule will determine the efficacy as follows: e r y t h r i t o l x y l i t o l > s o r b i t o l . The possible difference between erythritol and xylitol must be confirmed in future clinical trials.