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Scientists find toddler formula with maltodextrin contributes to tooth decay

Does your toddler formula contribute to tooth decay?

If it has maltodextrin or glucose syrup solids in it then the answer is yes.

In a recently published study, scientists have found that toddler formula containing maltodextrin and glucose syrup solids were found to be contribute significantly more to the development of tooth decay than toddler formula containing only lactose[1] .
 

The researchers looked at different formula products to review their impact on dental health[2], in particular their role in promoting tooth decay, an area which has not been adequately studied.
Studies also show that foods containing non-milk sugars are potentially the most damaging to dental health , and that glucose syrups and maltodextrins are associated with high levels of tooth decay[3].
 

Kids and caries
 

Tooth decay or dental caries affects almost half of Australian children who are 6 years old, and is the third leading cause of hospitalisation in children. Tooth decay in baby teeth is not simply a health problem which babies grow out of when they lose their baby teeth. Children with tooth decay can suffer distress and pain from tooth extractions due to advanced tooth decay as well as an increased likelihood of suffering from ongoing dental problems and tooth decay in their adult teeth.
 
Sugars are the most important dietary factor contributing to tooth decay.

 

What is maltodextrin?
 
Maltodextrin is an artificial sugar (also known as a polysaccharide) made from corn, rice, potato starch, or wheat that is easily digested and delivers nearly 4 calories per gram. Even though it is made from plants, maltodextrin is highly processed. Maltodextrin has a glycemic index of 130, (table sugar is only 65).
 

What are the benefits of maltodextrin?
 

Maltodextrin is a very useful product for food manufacturers, because it is cheap, plentiful and blends well with other ingredients. It is used in many processed foods such as salad dressing, frozen yoghurt, lollies, sweet and savoury packaged snacks and some infant formulas.
 

Does maltodextrin have any negative health effects?
 

Yes. When added to toddler formula maltodextrin has been found to significantly contribute to the development of tooth decay as compared to formula using only lactose[4].

 

Another reason to limit maltodextrin is to keep your gut bacteria healthy. While more research is needed in human subjects, studies using laboratory mice found that sugary maltodextrin promoted the growth of unhealthy bacteria, which damaged the intestine and increased the risk of inflammatory disease, according to a review in the journal PLoS One in July 2014[5].

 

Why are maltodextrin and glucose syrup solids in toddler formula?
 

Maltodextrin and glucose syrup solids add bulk, sweetness and blend well with other ingredients while also being cheap, making them a popular choice in the food manufacturing industry. These ingredients are added because it is convenient for the manufacturer, not because it contributes to the nutritional balance of the formula.

 

A better alternative carbohydrate source which can be used in formula is lactose. Lactose is a naturally occurring milk sugar, with distinct characteristics from other non-milk sugars. Lactose assists with mineral absorption and it does not cause tooth decay[6]. The sugars that are potentially damaging to dental health are the non-milk sugars and include all added sugars, sugars in fruit juices, honey and syrups[7].

 

Here’s why you really need to read the ingredient list of your toddler formula.
 

You need to read those ingredient labels on the toddler formula that you purchase for your family. Yes, you have a million things to think about and maybe you haven’t slept through the night since 2014, but it’s true. You need to read those labels.

 

There is a risk associated with the use of non-milk sugars in toddler formula, including a danger of inducing tooth decay in the infant’s first teeth and gut bacteria changes. These ingredients are found in some, but not all formulas. It is better for your baby if you buy a toddler formula which does not have these ingredients.

 

What exactly should you be looking for in your toddler formula ingredients list?
 

There are regulations which ensure that formula provides a nutrient blend similar to breast milk so that it can sustain a healthy baby or toddler. So approximately 90% of the ingredients in formula blends will be the same. It’s the 10% difference in brands which can show a great discrepancy.

 

Toddler formulas show the greatest discrepancies in ingredients as they are not as tightly regulated. Many food manufacturing companies choose the lower cost option and remove important nutrients from their toddler formulas and add maltodextrin and glucose syrup solids instead of adding higher value ingredients such as lactose.

 

This is what you don’t want to find on your toddler formula ingredients list:
 

– Maltodextrin
– Glucose syrup solids
– Corn syrup solids
– Any other non-milk sugars

 

The best formula product to purchase is one which has a premium blend of nutrients (including both of the important prebiotics and FOS and GOS, and Omega 3), and which does not have maltodextrin or glucose syrup solids. Ideally it’s Australia made too.
 

Click here for a comparison of some of the brands sold in Australia

 

Big budgets buy health halos

 

Most toddler formula manufacturers have very healthy marketing budgets. They buy clever and emotive campaigns and product positioning, using either science or health based language (organic is best) and imagery (double helix anyone), claiming associated benefits. But being organic or using quasi-scientific terms does not make the product more nutritious.

 

The issue of added sugars in food is particularly tricky for regular consumers to understand as there are more than 60 different names for sugars.
 

These marketing messages are very strong and it is difficult for parents to separate the spin from the substance.

 

What do the actual scientists say?
 

The conclusion of the recent research is that toddler formulas with maltodextrin and glucose syrup solids were found to be significantly more cariogenic (promoting the development of dental caries or tooth decay) than formulas containing only lactose. Research has also raised a key concern about the negative effects of maltodextrin on gut bacteria.

 

Choose a formula for your family without maltodextrin and glucose syrup solids to better protect and promote good dental health.

 


[1] The cariogenicity of commercial infant formulas: a systematic review, Tan SF, Tong HJ, Lin XY, Mok B, Hong CH, Eur Arch Paediatr Dent. 2016 Jun;17(3):145-56.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27193026

 

[1] Dietary advice in dental practice, P J Moynihan, British Dental Journal 193, 563 – 568 (2002)

http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v193/n10/full/4801628a.html

 

[1] Properties of maltodextrins and glucose syrups in experiments in vitro and in the diets of laboratory animals, relating to dental health., Grenby TH, Mistry M, Br J Nutr. 2000 Oct;84(4):565-74.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11103228

 

[1] The cariogenicity of commercial infant formulas: a systematic review, Tan SF, Tong HJ, Lin XY, Mok B, Hong CH, Eur Arch Paediatr Dent. 2016 Jun;17(3):145-56.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27193026

 

[1].Crohn’s disease-associated adherent-invasive Escherichia coli adhesion is enhanced by exposure to the ubiquitous dietary polysaccharide maltodextrin. Nickerson KP, McDonald C .PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e52132. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052132. Epub 2012 Dec 12

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0052132

 

[1] Dietary advice in dental practice, P J Moynihan, British Dental Journal 193, 563 – 568 (2002)

http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v193/n10/full/4801628a.html

 

[1] Dietary advice in dental practice, P J Moynihan, British Dental Journal 193, 563 – 568 (2002)

http://www.nature.com/bdj/journal/v193/n10/full/4801628a.html