Have a Little Licorice, Keep Tooth Decay and Gum Disease Away?
Licorice has been a household treat for many generations in the U.S. What may not be widely known in America is that licorice root has been used in Chinese medicine to treat a variety of ailments for many years. Recently, scientists led by Stefan Gafner published the results of their study in the ACS’ Journal of Natural Products demonstrating that substances in licorice may play a significant role in the prevention and treatment of tooth decay and gum disease.
It is the dried root in licorice (not found in U.S. licorice) that contains powerful active ingredients which may prevent and treat oral conditions. Two ingredients, licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, killed two of the major bacteria responsible for dental cavities and two of the bacteria that contribute to gum disease. Licoricidin also killed a third gum disease bacterium. The scientific researchers indicate that these substances may be able to treat or even prevent oral infections.
Licorice root can be purchased in the U.S. However, Licorice root is associated with potential side effects. So, people should check with their physician before taking licorice root. In terms of the impact of study results, more work will be required to see if the active ingredients in licorice root can be isolated to prevent and treat gum disease and tooth decay.
In the meantime, regular dental check-ups, a proper oral hygiene regimen, and professional tooth cleanings are the best means to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.