The development of a new cavity-fighting substance called CaviStat®, which mimics the acid-buffering and remineralizing effects of saliva, is now allowing dentists to unite the appeal of candy with a powerful tooth-protecting agent in an approach that could revolutionize the way parents and dentists think about candy and teeth.
"CaviStat can be considered to be a super-saliva complex that will pick up where fluoride has left off," said Dr. Israel Kleinberg, the lead researcher of the CaviStat program and Distinguished Professor and Founding Chairman of the Department of Oral Biology and Pathology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
In clinical trials, CaviStat was shown to be even more effective at preventing cavities than fluoride. It has long been known that saliva is the body's natural means of protecting teeth by washing away debris and allowing teeth to absorb enamel-strengthening minerals.
CaviStat contains arginine, an amino acid that is found in saliva, which works to neutralize the acids that cause tooth decay while also promoting remineralization.
Scientists have now developed BasicMints®, a chewable, candy-like mint which contains CaviStat. A recent study showed that children who took BasicMints twice a day after brushing their teeth with a fluoride toothpaste had 61.7 percent fewer dental cavities than children who brushed but took a placebo mint.
For children chewing the mints, BasicMints are most effective at preventing cavities in the molars, where they most commonly occur. Cavities are one of the most prevalent health concerns in children, with millions developing them each year. Cavities can cause pain, discomfort and missed school for children, and can leave parents with large dental bills. Many dentists now hope that technologies like BasicMints will be able to reduce the number of children suffering from cavities.