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News / December 10, 2013

Scientists uncover sweet route to oral health

by Guy Hiscott

A sugar-free sweet has been found to significantly reduce harmful bacteria in the mouth.

Research shows that nearly 75% of study participants who ate sweets containing heat-killed bacteria lactobacillus paracasei had ‘significantly lower’ levels of bad bacteria in their saliva than before.

The study involved 60 participants, who each ate five sweets over one and a half days. One third of the subjects ate sweets containing 1mg of lactobacillus paracasei, while another third ate sweets with twice this amount (2mg). The control group ate sweets containing no bacteria.

No other oral hygiene activities were performed during this time, nor were the subjects allowed to drink coffee, tea or wine, or to eat probiotic foods.

The researchers believe that by binding with mutans streptococci – the bacteria commonly responsible for poor oral health – the lactobacillus paracasei prevented it from attaching to the surface of teeth. They also noted that by using dead bacteria, they avoided problems that live bacteria might have caused.

Lactobacillus paracasei does not bind with beneficial bacteria in the oral environment, which is why the researchers believe it prevents cavity damage better than other probiotics.

Additionally, the sugar-free sweets stimulate saliva flow, which is beneficial to oral health.

The study, conducted by a team from Organobalance in Germany, and led by Christine Lang, is published in Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins.