A new three-year clinical trial has found that non-caloric erythritol, a sweetener that has better digestive tolerance than any other polyol, may also be superior at promoting dental health. The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study – using Cargill’s Zerose erythritol – revealed that this versatile sweetener may be more effective at preventing dental caries and reducing plaque formation than xylitol and sorbitol. Zerose erythritol is close in taste, sweetness quality and mouthfeel to sugar.
“This is good news, especially for our customer partners targeting oral care benefits for their products,” said Peter Decock, nutrition and regulatory manager, Cargill Health & Nutrition. “In past clinical trials using xylitol chewing gum, it was generally accepted that sugar substitution in combination with saliva stimulation was responsible for lowering the risk of cavities. We now understand that there may be important differences between how sugar substitutes affect the oral microbiota and dental health when used in candies – and that erythritol may offer greater benefits.”
Three sweeteners put to the test
In the clinical trial – funded by Cargill’s Research & Development Centre in Europe and conducted by the University of Tartu, Department of Stomatology, Faculty of Medicine – 485 first- and second-grade students were randomly assigned to three groups: erythritol, xylitol and sorbitol. Over the course of three years, only during school days, their teachers distributed and supervised the use of candies three times a day at school – in the morning, immediately after lunch and at the end of the school day. The teachers and students did not know to which sweetener group they belonged.
During their annual dental exams, each participating student was assessed using the International Caries Detection and Assessment System. The differences between the annual caries ratings in intervention groups and placebo reflect each sweetener’s caries preventive effect.
Superior results for erythritol
After the second and third years, the researchers found that the number of dentin* caries was lowest in the erythritol group. Plaque formation within the erythritol group was lower after the first, second and third years. The significant higher plaque reduction observed for erythritol compared to xylitol and sorbitol in this long-term intervention is consistent with the finding in a short-term, six-month study (Mäkinen et al. 2005) in which a significant higher plaque reduction also was observed for erythritol compared to xylitol and sorbitol.
Giving consumers “better for you” products with the taste they love
“The new three-year clinical study shows that with Zerose erythritol, manufacturers have new opportunities to formulate great-tasting oral care products that have improved dental benefits compared to products using xylitol, which is currently in common use,” said Tim Bauer, Zerose erythritol product line manager, Cargill Health & Nutrition. “As companies work hard to offer unique value propositions – and as Cargill works to expand consumer awareness of the benefits of erythritol – we see a strong indication that the use of Zerose erythritol will become a major point of difference in the marketplace,” he said.
Bauer adds that Cargill is planning further clinical trials and is fully committed to advancing the oral care benefits of Zerose erythritol.