Bacteria-coated candy may prevent cavities

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

The tiny mirror in the dentist’s hand shows a very large cavity. Is that the sweet tooth?

You’ve heard it a million times before: eating too much candy will rot your teeth to their core. This may have been true before, but thanks to German scientists from Organo company, candy may actually prevent cavities and promote dental health in the future.

A strain of bacteria known as mutans streptococci love to eat sugar just about as much we do. However, when these little buggers consume the sweet chemical, they produce an acidic waste that wears down a tooth’s enamel – the white layer that protects teeth. Over time, the bacteria can possibly cause dental cavities, which are a sign of tooth decay. However, there is another bacteria known as Lactobacillus paracasei that prevent the enamel-destroying acid from reaching your teeth.

The Organo researchers wondered if using this bacteria in candy would protect teeth, and in order to find out they conducted a small study. First, they recruited 60 participants and divided them into different groups. While one set of people received candy without any Lactobacillus paracasei, a second set received sweets coated with 2 milligrams of the acid-fighting bacteria. Then, both groups ate their candies 4 times in over two days.

According to the results of the study, the participants who ate candy laced with the acid-fighting bacteria had far fewer mutans streptococci in their mouth. “These results suggest the use of… L. paracasei… in suckable candies as a method to reduce mutans streptococci in the mouth and, thereby, [cavities] risk,” read the study.

While these results seem promising, some dentists are not so quick to jump on the bandwagon. “We dentists always say when you put a crown in a mouth it’s like putting a jewel in a sewer – that’s how much bacteria is swimming in your mouth,” said New York City dentist Barry Kramer. “I doubt that a quick fix like this would do much good.”

Whether the candies will be a quick fix or not, there is no word yet as to when they will be available in the US, if at all.

Featured image courtesy of Stefano Mortellaro on Wikipedia. Image of cavities courtesy of Lorenia on Flickr.