A sugar-free lollipop that actively fights tooth decay has been developed in the US.
The revolutionary orange-flavoured sweet – marketed as Dr John’s Herbal Candy – is infused with a liquorice extract that kills the primary bacterium causing tooth decay.
It’s the brainchild of microbiologist and dentistry professor Wenyuan Shi from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Dentistry, who claims that just 15mg of liquorice powder per lollipop eliminates 99.9% of Streptococcus mutans, the common bacterium that could release harmful cavity-causing acids.
Before cavities appear, bacteria in the mouth produce acids that create holes in the top layer of the teeth and Streptococcus mutans causes a large percentage of these holes, Shi said.
Shi collaborated with scientists in China to explore traditional herbs, eventually discovering that liquorice root was one of the most effective especially as the extract does not kill the other bacteria in the mouth necessary for good oral health.
‘In both Chinese in Western cultures people chew it for the taste,’ he said.
‘But it also has a lot of good health benefits – it stimulates saliva flow, has anti-bacterial properties and keeps bacteria from adhering to your teeth.’
The lollipop was chosen as the ideal sweet for the ingredient because people suck on them, keeping the liquorice extract in the mouth for longer.
US company Delta Dental offered Shi $1million for his study. Since then, the company has provided close to $10million for the lollipop project.
The lollipop is now available to buy online at http://www.drjohns.com/herbal.htm at a cost of $10 for a pack of 20.
The website recommends that customers:
• Have one lollipop in the morning after breakfast and another before bed. Dissolve slowly in mouth
• Repeat for 10 days
• Use the lollipop between two and four times per year to maintain effectiveness, or as directed by your dentist.