“Healthy Candy?”

Imagine being able to suck on a lollipop to benefit your teeth! Imaging a candy approved by your dentist ! A UCLA research team (with Chinese collaboration) has developed a licorice candy which actually destroys the bacteria in your mouth responsible for cavities and tooth decay – without disrupting the healthy, digestive bacteria. Sound amazing? It just might be the future!

healthy candy
The Glycyrrhiza uralensis plant.

Glycyrrhiza uralensis is the magic behind this development, an extract from licorice root which effectively eliminates 99.9% of the mouth’s streptococcus mutans, a significant bacterial contributor to tooth decay (it produces acids which eat away at the protective outer layers of your teeth). The extract, blended into a sugarfree candy lollipop, can be ingested like a normal piece of candy, with no negative side effects noted (at this time). Licorice root also promotes saliva flow, promoting a healthy oral environment. Alternate studies have also shown licorice extract to be capable of relieving pain symptoms associated with canker sores.

Besides the obvious benefits of a convenient, delicious way to fight tooth decay, sugar-free candy produced with licorice root could be a godsend for mothers and parents who can’t get their children to stop eating candy (or who refuse to brush their teeth)! The amount of time it takes for the average person to suck and digest a lollipop was shown to be more than adequate for the root to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. Chinese medicine has used licorice root for centuries( I grew up in Taiwan, used licorice root for teething, even I had sweet tooth and always rushed with my brushing, did not have cavity problem!) in treating various inflammatory and viral maladies, although western medicine has only recently discovered the benefits of the root.

Although these cavity-fighting candies are only available in Japan and Europe at the moment, it won’t be too long before Americans will be able to prevent cavities with lollipops! More research is necessary before such products will be approved by the FDA.

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