Want To Fight Cavities? Eat Gummi Bears!

Want To Fight Cavities? Eat Gummi Bears!
SEATTLE - The staff at KOMO 4 News did a double take when we saw a local ad for a Gummi Bear study. The ad is searching for participants willing to try a new type of Gummi Bears.

But these are no ordinary Gummi Bears. We read further and found out these Gummi Bears fight cavities!?!

"My mom always told me those candies were gross and bad for me," says 11-year-old Antonio Barchetta during a field trip at the Seattle Center.

We know it's contrary to what we've always believed that candy is bad for your teeth. But this candy is a cavity-fighter.

"We're trying to find a way to give kids in particular something in their diet that would prevent tooth decay," explains U.W. Lead Researcher and Dental Professor Peter Milgrom.

To do that, Milgrom asked a California candy maker to add xylitol, a naturally occurring sugar, to Gummi Bears. Xylitol may sound familiar because it's already being used in some sugarless chewing gums.

"We don't let kids chew gum at school and don't let little kids chew gum cause they might choke," he said. So Milgrom says his challenge became how to get xylitol in a child's diet.

"Gummi Bears!" brags Milgrom.

It got Laurie Rossnagel's attention.

"They had this cute little ad with a Gummi Bear on it, so I signed up," says Rossnagel.

She signed up for Milgrom's clinical study to help determine the effectiveness of xylitol Gummi Bears. They're still looking for more people willing to try them.

"When I was a kid, I had cavities and I hated going to the dentist, I remember that vividly," says Rossnagel. "If this study can help other kids then I'll all for helping."

Xylitol works like brushing your teeth. It reduces the amount of bacteria that causes tooth decay by making the bacteria less likely to stick to your teeth.

"I'm eating Gummi Worms," says Sam Stull. We found in him the candy shop at the Seattle Center. Every kid we talked to said candy that mom will approve us is a big plus. "A child's life is all about sugar," says Stull's schoolmate Antonio Barchetta.

Right now, you can't buy Gummi Bears with xylitol. The only place you can find them is in the lab at the University of Washington.

"I don't really floss my teeth," admits Barchetta. "My mom always tell me to, and so does my dentist, so I could just eat that every morning."

The U.W. expects results in the spring.

We had one big concern: if the cavity fighting Gummi Bears, make it to market, how will kids know the difference, and will they think all Gummi Bears are cavity fighter?

The professor says once they're on the market, he thinks they'll take over. He pointed to Japan, where he says once xylitol gum was introduced, that's all consumers buy now.

So of course, maybe the even bigger question, how do these things taste? We were surprised -- they tasted like Gummi Bears!

To Take Part In The Study:

Gummi Bear Study