It may sound too good to be true, but German researchers have created a sugar-free candy they say can actually fight cavities.
Researchers from the Berlin-based firm Organobalance GmbH, who developed the candy, noted the human mouth contains a variety of good and bad bacteria. Mouthwashes, along with brushing, flossing, and cleaning our teeth help to knock out cavity-causing, gum-damaging bad bacteria, while allowing beneficial oral bacteria to thrive.
Poor oral health has been linked to many health conditions, from heart disease to Alzheimer's to pancreatic cancer.
In new research published in the journal Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins, the German researchers noted bacteria that remain on the surface of the teeth after we eat release acids, which can dissolve the tooth enamel, leading to cavities. The most common strain of these "bad" bacteria are called Mutans streptococci. But another bacteria called Lactobacillus paracasei reduce levels of the cavity-causing bacteria in animal studies, decreasing the number of cavities.
The team, led by Christine Lang, sought to determine if binding the two bacteria together would prevent this bad bacteria from reattaching to the teeth, causing them to get washed away by saliva.
In a study involving 60 volunteers, Lang and her team tested whether their sugar-free candy, which contained heat-killed samples of L. paracasei, reduced levels of bad oral bacteria. One-third of the subjects ate candies with small amounts of the dead bacteria, a second group ate candies laced with higher levels, and a third ate bacteria-free candies.
All participants ate five candies during the two-day study and were not allowed to perform any oral hygiene activities during this time.
The results showed that nearly 75 percent of the participants who ate candies with the good bacteria had "significantly lower" levels of bad bacteria in their saliva than those who ate bacteria-free candy. In addition, the higher the levels of the bacteria in the candy, the greater the reduction of the bad bacteria.
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"Additionally," the researchers added, "sugar-free candies stimulate saliva flow, a benefit to oral health."
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