Scientists create candy that's good for teeth

by Marcia Malory report
Streptococcus mutans. Gram stain. Credit: CDC

(Medical Xpress)—Dentists warn us that too many sweets can cause cavities. In fact, it's not candy, but bacteria on the tooth surface that cause tooth decay. If you reduce the amount of cavity-causing bacteria, the number of cavities should decrease. Christine Lang of the Berlin biotech firm ORGANOBALANCE and her colleagues have developed a candy that can do this. This candy contains dead bacteria that bind to the bacteria most likely to cause cavities. Subjects who ate the candy had reduced levels of "bad" bacteria in their mouths. The research appears in Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins.

After you eat, bacteria attached to the surface of your teeth release acid. Slowly, this acid dissolves your tooth enamel. As the enamel wears down, cavities can develop. The strain of bacteria most likely to cause cavities is mutans . When you chew, you shed mutans streptococci into your saliva. Swallowing or spitting removes some of the bacteria from your mouth after you finish chewing. The remaining bacteria reattach themselves to your teeth.

The researchers knew that another type of bacteria, Lactobacillus paracasei, found in kefir, reduces levels of mutans streptococci and decreases the number of cavities in rats. A sugar on the surface of L. paracasei binds with mutans streptococci. Lang and her team think that by binding with mutans streptococci, L. paracasei prevents mutans streptococci from reattaching to teeth.

To test whether L. paracasei could help prevent in people, Lang and her team developed a sugar-free containing heat-killed samples of the bacteria. They then tested the candy on a group of 60 volunteers. One third ate candies with one milligram of L. paracasei, one third ate candies with two milligrams and one third ate candies that tasted the same, but contained no bacteria.

Each of the subjects ate five candies over a one and half day period. At the end of the experiment, about three fourths of the volunteers who'd eaten candies with bacteria had significantly lower levels of mutans streptococci in their saliva than they'd had the day before. Subjects who consumed candies with two milligrams of bacteria experienced a reduction in mutans streptococci levels after eating the first candy.

The researchers point out that they by using dead bacteria, they were able to avoid problems live bacteria might have caused. Killing the L. paracasei does not destroy the sugar that binds with mutans streptococci. L. paracasei does not bind with beneficial oral . This makes it a better choice for cavity prevention than other probiotics.

More information: Lactobacillus paracasei DSMZ16671 Reduces Mutans Streptococci: A Short-Term Pilot Study, Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins, December 2013, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 259-263. link.springer.com/article/10.1… %2Fs12602-013-9148-9

Abstract
Reducing the burden of pathogenic mutans streptococci is a goal of oral health. Lactobacillus paracasei DSMZ16671, even after heat-killing, specifically co-aggregates mutans streptococci in vitro and retains this activity in human saliva. In rats, it reduces mutans streptococcal colonization of teeth and caries scores. This pilot study sought to assess the potential of heat-killed L. paracasei DSMZ16671 (pro-t-action®) to reduce levels of salivary mutans streptococci in humans, using sugar-free candies as a delivery vehicle. A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind in vivo study of three groups examined the short-term effect of sugar-free candies containing 0 (placebo), 1, or 2 mg/candy piece of heat-killed L. paracasei DSMZ16671 on the levels of salivary mutans streptococci determined before and after consumption of the candies. The candies were consumed 4 times during 1.5 consecutive days. Compared to the placebo group, the test groups' saliva had significantly reduced mutans streptococci as an immediate effect. These results suggest the use of heat-killed L. paracasei DSMZ16671 in suckable candies as a method to reduce mutans streptococci in the mouth and, thereby, caries risk. We think this a new concept and strategy for caries prevention and management.

Tip: Science magazine

Related Stories

New evidence on how fluoride fights tooth decay

May 01, 2013

In an advance toward solving a 50-year-old mystery, scientists are reporting new evidence on how the fluoride in drinking water, toothpastes, mouth rinses and other oral-care products prevents tooth decay. ...

Researchers identify new dental cavity-causing species

May 17, 2011

A team of scientists from Boston has confirmed that the bacterium Streptococcus mutans is a primary culprit in early childhood caries (EEC) cavities on the first set of teeth, and has identified a new species of bacterium, ...

Recommended for you

Roman-Britons had less gum disease than modern Britons

Oct 23, 2014

The Roman-British population from c. 200-400 AD appears to have had far less gum disease than we have today, according to a study of skulls at the Natural History Museum led by a King's College London periodontist. The surprise ...

Want whiter teeth? Fruit mixture is not the answer

Oct 14, 2014

Can you ditch the strips and dump the dentist for whiter teeth? From "The Dr. Oz Show" to YouTube videos, experts say you can reclaim those pearly whites simply by mixing fruit, such as strawberries, with ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

wealthychef
not rated yet Dec 03, 2013
Sugar free candy kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it? I can just use mouthwash if I want to kill bacteria on my teeth, no?
ueli
5 / 5 (2) Dec 03, 2013
Just produce the candies with Xylitol, There is no better way to prevent cavities than replacing sugar with Xylitol! Just check out all the studies that have been done, most of them in Finland after WW2.
Try it out if you want to avoid dental bills. Xylitol is readily available although a bit more expensive than sugar.
adam_russell_9615
5 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2013
The way to keep bacteria from growing on your teeth is dont feed them. If you brush your teeth there wont be enough food left for the bacteria to multiply. Keep a travel toothbrush with you at all times and brush every time you eat or drink anything that that bacteria can feed on. Even if you dont have toothpaste it will work. The toothbrush does 99% of the work anyway. Even if you dont have a sink to rinse in, just take a few seconds to brush your teeth enough to clean them off. You can rinse the toothbrush later. Since Ive done this my dentist visits have been 100%.
JRi
not rated yet Dec 07, 2013
Just produce the candies with Xylitol, There is no better way to prevent cavities than replacing sugar with Xylitol! Just check out all the studies that have been done, most of them in Finland after WW2.
Try it out if you want to avoid dental bills. Xylitol is readily available although a bit more expensive than sugar.


Erythritol works as well as xylitol, but gives you less bloating and flatulence.