The human mouth is bristling with activity 24/7 thanks to the oral bacteria present. Estimates suggest that adult mouths can contain up to 1,000 different variety of oral bacteria which, when in perfect harmony, are essential organisms for aiding in digestion. However, when those levels get out of whack, the critters can band together to create dental plaque and the assortment of dental problems associated with the growth. Practicing oral hygiene and following through on preventative dentistry can help keep that balance in check, especially when backed by the decision to eat specific foods know for fighting oral bacteria.
Oral bacteria are an essential component to the human digestive system as the organisms help break down trace particles of foods and sugars deposited on teeth after consumption. Once sucrose (the chief component in many foods such as carbohydrates and sugars) is located on the teeth, oral bacteria will feast on that food source. As they do, they may band together to form a community (called dental plaque) and will naturally release tooth-eroding acids as a byproduct of their work. Fortunately there are super-foods that are known for reducing the levels of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth.
Licorice root is as old as time itself and for thousands of years it has been coveted not just as a delicious flavor enhancer but also for its medicinal benefits. The herb is has been used to control chronic hepatitis, treat melasma and to treat mouth ulcers. Current research has shown that the plant also is powerful enough to kill the oral bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease.
Scientists from the American Chemical Society and the American Society of Pharmacognosy conducted research that resulted in the discovery of two naturally occurring substances in licorice that kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease. Licoricidin and licorisoflavan A are the elements featuring antibacterial properties, and they have been found to kill Streptococcus mutans (the main oral bacteria known for causing cavities) as well as a number of other strains that contribute to dental problems.
Individuals looking to incorporate the cavity fighter in their diet have several options. One is chewing the licorice root in its natural form; although it looks like a tree branch, the substance is soft and chewing on the stick will release a sweet, licorice flavor and all the cavity fighting components. If chewing roots feel too primitive, Dr. John's Candies of Grand Rapids, Michigan (http://drjohns.com/) sells herbal lollipops containing pure licorice extract and studies found that when the lollipops are consumed two times a day, for 10 minutes each session for a period of three weeks, Streptococcus mutans levels in saliva were significantly lowered (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/232706.php).
Thanks to an aggressive 1980s ad campaign, dried grapes were branded "California Raisins" and the fruit was never quite the same. Although some dental care experts advice eating dried fruit with caution as the food can stick to teeth and possible attract oral bacteria, there are compounds in raisins that have been clinically proven to reduce the number of cavity-causing oral bacteria in the mouth.
Research has shown that raisins are naturally rich in phytochemicals, a naturally occurring compound that helps give plants specific characteristics (like scent and color) and are believed to fight a number of diseases including cancers and strokes. Raisins have been found to have a healthy mix of five of those compounds and tests have showed that raisins made from Thompson Grapes are effective in lowering levels of cavity causing Streptococcus mutans.
Many consider wine to be the nectar of the Gods and numerous studies have shown the health benefits of drinking that specific alcohol in moderation. The drink is rich in antioxidants, has been shown to boost heart health and is sometimes used to fight the common cold. Red wine is produced from a pressing of grapes and the hue is attributed to the fruit skin being included in the mix. The skin has been found to contain polyphenols that has been proven to kill Streptococcus mutans.
While all these foods can indeed help fight unhealthy levels of oral bacteria, brushing, flossing, eating healthy foods and seeing a dentist regularly are still the best ways to help prevent cavities. Individuals who need to find a dentist stat can call 1-800-DENTIST, 24/7 for the name of a great provider close to home.