Tooth decay is the process that results in a cavity (dental caries). It occurs when bacteria in your mouth make acids that eat away at a tooth. If not treated, tooth decay can cause pain, infection, and tooth loss.
You can easily prevent tooth decay by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, seeing your dentist for teeth cleaning and checkups, and avoiding foods that are high in sugar.
What causes tooth decay?
The combination of bacteria and food causes tooth decay. A clear, sticky substance called plaque that contains bacteria is always forming on your teeth and gums. As the bacteria feed on the sugars in the food you eat, they make acids. The acids attack the teeth for 20 minutes or more after eating. Over a period of time, these acids destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay.
A recent study, published by the European Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, demonstrated that sugar-free lollipops containing licorice root extract significantly reduced the bacteria that causes tooth decay, specifically in pre-school children with high-risk of tooth decay.
The study, funded by the Research and Data Institute of the affiliated companies of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, New Mexico and North Carolina, analyzed 66 preschool students ages 2 to 5 enrolled in the Greater Lansing Area Head Start Program. Each student received a lollipop for 10 minutes twice daily for three weeks.
"Dental decay is one of the most common childhood diseases with more than half of children ages 5 to 17 having had at least one cavity or filling," said Jed J. Jacobson, D.D.S., M.S., M.P.H., chief science officer at Delta Dental. "We are working to find simple, effective regimens that will encourage prevention and control of dental disease. While the results of this pilot clinical trial are encouraging, more research is needed to confirm these early findings."
Results showed a significant reduction in Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans), the primary bacteria responsible for tooth decay, during the three-week period when the lollipops were being used and lasting for an additional 22 days before beginning to rebound.