A new chewable mint looks set to solve the worldwide problem of tooth decay.
BasicMints is an experimental fluoride-free treatment designed to mimic a component in human saliva that neutralises acids in the mouth that can erode tooth enamel.
US researchers tested the product on 200 children – aged between 10-and-a-half and 11 – over a year.
The results show that children who were administered BasicMints had 62% fewer cavities in their molars when the year was up, compared to children in the placebo group.
The research team, from New York’s Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine, developed the active compound in the mints known as CaviStat.
The sample group were children who were at the age of getting their adult molars but still had some baby teeth left.
‘Unlike regular candies, we want this product to be stuck in the teeth,’ said Mitchell Goldberg, president of Ortek Therapeutics Inc, the New York company that licensed the technology from Stony Brook.
Half the children in the study took two of the medicated mints in the morning after brushing with a fluoride toothpaste.
They followed the same routine at night.
The other half brushed normally and twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and took plain sugarless mints.
The soft mints are designed to dissolve in the biting surfaces of the back teeth when chewed, where about 90% of cavities in children occur.
Unlike sugarless gum – that fights cavities by temporarily increasing the flow of saliva in the mouth – the mints actively neutralise acids that cause cavities.
Mitchell Goldberg explained: ‘It’s our goal to file an IND (Investigational New Drug) with the US Food and Drug Administration by year end, and begin human clinical studies shortly after.
‘It could be several years before the product is commercialised. It will be an approved drug, although it may be available over the counter.’
He added: ‘Since tooth decay is still one of the most prevalent diseases in children, we hope it becomes a valuable new weapon in the fight against tooth decay.’
The results are published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry.