When you’re gnawing on sticky twists of red licorice at the movies, you are not preventing gum disease. The sugar in the candy, along with the acidic soda you’re likely washing it down with, have the ability to soften the enamel of your teeth and promote the growth of bacteria. If you don’t get around to brushing your teeth shortly after your sugar binge, sticky plaque will adhere to your teeth and begin the cycle of tooth decay. With all of this bad news, would you believe that licorice has actually been found to inhibit the growth of the primary bacteria that causes gum disease and cavities? Cypress dentist, Dr. Terry Councill, explains the connection.
How Can Licorice Fight Gum Disease?
Before you go to your local warehouse store and buy the most oversized vat of licorice you can find, there is an important distinction. Licorice root is the gum disease fighter, not the sugary licorice candy we have grown accustomed to in the United States. A recent study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Natural Products identified important components in licorice root – licoricidin and licorisoflavan – that were effective in halting the growth of Streptococcus mutans and S. sobrinus. Those same licorice extracts also slowed the growth of Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella intermedia, bacteria that are both implicated in gum disease progression.
Dried Licorice Root in Medicine
Licorice root has been utilized in Chinese medicine for centuries, to treat digestive and respiratory issues. Many believe that licorice root extracts can help with liver disease, renal fatigue, ulcers, and skin conditions. This powerful root is thought to decrease general inflammation. The duration of aphthous ulcers, better known as canker sores has been shown to decrease with the use of licorice root extract.
The aforementioned licorice candy that you can purchase at your local store is not actually flavored with licorice root, but rather anise oil. However, researchers have been using licorice infused lollipops to conduct further research on gum disease at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The sugar-free candy proved to kill S. mutans. Among the more interesting studies are those using licorice lollipops to fight tooth decay. In research conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) for example, investigators found that sugar-free lollipops containing licoricidin and licorisoflavan killed S. mutans and other cavity-causing bacteria. Though this research is exciting, experts say you should consult your dentist or general physician before consuming licorice root in any form.
Schedule a Visit with your Cypress Dentist
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Councill today by calling Councill Dental Group at 281-376-9246 or click here to request an appointment online. Our 77429 dental office welcomes patients from the Cypress-Greater Houston area.