WESTWOOD—UCLA researchers have discovered a solution for preventing cavities. They developed a new type of lollipop with a special ingredient that helps tooth decay.
A few years ago, a dentistry professor, who is also a microbiologist, discovered an ingredient from licorice roots that combats bacteria that cause tooth decay. This ingredient is now a part of other ingredients in a lollipop. This new licorice root is now available in a sugar-free, orange-flavored, bacteria-killing lollipop.
The licorice root extract has been shown to kill Streptococcus mutants which is known to release harmful cavity-causing acids. Before cavities appear, bacteria that stay in the mouth produce acids that create holes in the outermost layer of the teeth. Streptococcus mutans is one of the most virulent cavity-causing bacteria, and the licorice root extract specifically kills only the harmful bacteria.
Using the licorice in gum or candy does not have the same advantage that lollipops have. The reason is that there are fewer chances for consumers to choke on a lollipop than there are with candy or chewing gum. Another reason that lollipops are more favorable than candy or gum is because lollipops last longer and therefore the licorice stays in the mouth for a longer period, making it more effective.
The lollipop research was originally targeted to special needs people who have trouble brushing their teeth. It was later discovered that according to data from the Center for Disease Control, young children and the elderly are the most susceptible to cavities.
The researchers see the lollipop creation as part of a trend toward medicinal dentistry, which means less surgical approaches to dental problems. Putting the licorice into a lollypop rather than in pills makes it more desirable for children as well as adults.
It is hoped by next year this lollipop will be sold in drugstores.
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