Science Friday: Can Liquorice Root Replace Visiting the Dentist?

Can Liquorice Root Replace Visiting the Dentist?Dentists, do you think liquorice root can help fight gum disease?

Some scientists think so.

The liquorice plant is a legume that is native to Asia and southern Europe. In Italy they like to chew on liquorice root as a mouth freshener.

Maybe they were on to something …

Scientists are reporting identification of two substances in liquorice — used extensively in Chinese traditional medicine — that kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease, the leading causes of tooth loss in children and adults. In a study in ACS’ Journal of Natural Products, they say that these substances could have a role in treating and preventing tooth decay and gum disease.

Stefan Gafner and colleagues explain that the dried root of the liquorice plant is a common treatment in Chinese traditional medicine, especially as a way to enhance the activity of other herbal ingredients or as a flavoring.

Despite the popularity of liquorice candy in the U.S., liquorice root has been replaced in domestic candy with anise oil, which has a similar flavor. Traditional medical practitioners use dried liquorice root to treat various ailments, such as respiratory and digestive problems, but few modern scientific studies address whether liquorice really works. (Consumers should check with their health care provider before taking licorice root because it can have undesirable effects and interactions with prescription drugs.)

To test whether the sweet root could combat the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities, the researchers took a closer look at various substances in licorice.

They found that two of the liquorice compounds, licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, were the most effective antibacterial substances. These substances killed two of the major bacteria responsible for dental cavities and two of the bacteria that promote gum disease. One of the compounds — licoricidin — also killed a third gum disease bacterium. The researchers say that these substances could treat or even prevent oral infections.

Does anyone see liquorice root flavored mouth rinses in our future?

Source: American Chemical Society

Science Friday: Will A Breakthrough Mouthwash Eliminate Need for Dentists?

Science Friday: Will A Breakthrough in Mouthwash Eliminate Need For Dentists?Will a mouthwash eventually eliminate the need to visit the dentist for regular checkups?

In a recent clinical study, a new mouthwash developed by a microbiologist at the UCLA School of Dentistry successfully eliminated most of the Streptococcus mutans bacteria in 12 subjects over a trial period of four days.

As reported in Science Daily, the subjects rinsed only once and the mouthwash was effective in targeting the bacteria that is the principal cause tooth decay and cavities.

The mouthwash is the product of nearly ten years of research conducted by Wenyuan Shi, chair of the oral biology section at the UCLA School of Dentistry. Shi developed a new antimicrobial technology called STAMP (specifically targeted anti-microbial peptides) with support from C3-Jian Inc. a company he founded around patent rights he developed at UCLA. (Science Daily)

Because of the effectiveness of this limited clinical trial, C3-Jian Inc. has filed an application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is expected to begin more extensive clinical trials in March 2012. If the FDA ultimately approves STAMP for general use, it will be the first such anti-dental caries drug since fluoride was licensed nearly 60 years ago.

Since Americans spend more than $70 billion each year on the treatment of tooth decay or cavities, will a simple mouthwash eliminate the need for regular visits to the dentist?

What are your thoughts?

For more on this story see: New Mouthwash Targeting Harmful Bacteria May Render Tooth Decay a Thing of the Past.

Science Friday: An Apple a Day May Create Tooth Decay

science friday and apple a dayDavid Bartlett, Head of Prosthodontics at King’s College London Dental Institute, directed a study looking for links between tooth wear at several sites in the mouth, and diet in more than 1,000 men and women aged 18 to 30.

What they discovered may shock you.

As reported by The Daily Mail the study determined that eating apples can be up to four times more damaging to teeth than carbonated drinks. Beer and wine also increase the risk of dental damage.

Professor Bartlett noted, “It is not only about what we eat, but how we eat it.” The warning: The high acidity levels of apples can damage your teeth.

The study looked for damage to the 2mm surface enamel of teeth, and at the dentine, the main supporting structure of the tooth beneath the enamel, and compared it with diet.

As reported in The Daily Mail article, people who ate apples were 3.7 times more likely to have dentine damage, while carbonated drink consumers had no additional risk. Fruit juice increased damage to the enamel around the top of the teeth near the gums.

For more on this study see: An apple is worse for your teeth than a fizzy drink


Soda Really Can Cause Tooth Decay and Weight Gain

Coca-Cola recently launched an Australian ad campaign designed to humorously rebuff certain myths about the soda. But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission was not amused by the company’s claims that Coke does not cause tooth decay or weight gain.

In fact, the commission has ordered the soft drink giant to publish corrections both in newspapers and online.

Read about the decision or see the original advertisement

Coca-Cola Rotting Teeth Is Not an Urban Myth

Dentists Insist Coke Does Rot Teeth

Coca-Cola’s new Australian ad campaign features different legends about the classic soft drink. But when Coke went so far as to suggest that the soda does not in fact rot teeth, dentists and other health experts vigorously disagreed.

Read more


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