I love irony. Just yesterday I updated an old blog about the relationship between oral health and heart disease, adding information that suggests that heavy consumption of sweets could lead to chronic heart health issues as well as obvious oral health problems. Then today, I was catching up on news of the dental industry online and came across a Medical News Today article that actually recommended eating candy as a means of fighting cavities. I had to chuckle. So which is it? Eat candy to protect your teeth and gums, or steer clear of sweets to preserve your oral health and prevent heart disease? Turns out, it’s a little bit of both.
Every mouth is riddled with bacteria, both good and bad. The objective is to maintain a healthy balance of the two, typically achieved by brushing at least twice a day, flossing regularly, and visiting the dentist bi-annually. By practicing a good dental hygiene routine, the bad, cavity-causing bacteria are eliminated while beneficial oral bacteria thrive. When you eat, bacteria on the surface of the teeth become acidic, dissolving enamel and ultimately causing cavities. These effects are amplified by some foods, such as sweets. We all know how hard it can be to give up sweets, and fortunately, thanks to a team from the Berlin-based firm Organobalance GmbH, Germany, you don’t have to. They have developed a new candy which trials have shown reduces levels of bad bacteria, allowing for improved oral health.
The research was recently published in Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins, and described a trial involving 60 subjects. The candy contained varying amounts of the good bacteria found in the mouth (L. paracasei), with 1/3 of the subjects consuming 1 mg of the bacteria, while 1/3 ate 2 mg. The final 1/3 served as the control group and ate candies without the added bacteria. All subjects ate five candies during the one-and-a-half day long study. They were not permitted to perform any oral hygiene activities or consume coffee, tea, wine, or probiotic foods of any kind during the study. Results found that nearly 75% of the participants who ate candies with the added good bacteria had “significantly lower levels of Mutans streptococci (bad bacteria) in their saliva than before.” Those who ate 2 mg were shown to have much lower levels of bad bacteria after just one candy. In addition to creating a more “friendly” oral cavity environment, the candies also stimulate saliva flow, which is known to benefit oral health. So, there you have it. Avoid sweets to achieve the best oral health and prevent heart disease, unless you have access to these sugar-free, cavity fighting treats. If you’re that lucky, then enjoy! You’re welcome.