PLAQUE BUSTERS; How Olive Oil, Chewing Gum and Green Tea Can Prevent the Build-Up of Bacteria

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), May 9, 2010 | Go to article overview

PLAQUE BUSTERS; How Olive Oil, Chewing Gum and Green Tea Can Prevent the Build-Up of Bacteria


Byline: Anastasia Stephens

Anew toothpaste claims to 'dissolve' 88 per cent more dental plaque than other toothpastes. It is quite a claim, given that dentists advise patients to have bacterial plaque removed professionally from their teeth every three to six months.

'Plaque forms when decay-causing bacteria attach to the surface of tooth enamel, forming a sticky film,' explains Dr Mervyn Druian, of the British Dental Association. 'This can build up and harden around tooth and gum margins.

'The problem is that the bacteria living in the plaque release acids that weaken tooth enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay. The bacteria and their acids also raise the risk of gum inflammation.'

There is also a more serious effect of plaque. 'Reducing dental plaque reduces the levels of bacteria in the mouth which, when you have bleeding gums, can get into the blood and increase the risk of atherosclerosis - the narrowing of arteries.'

Bacteria feed on sugary and highcarbohydrate foods. Low-sugar diets, containing a balance of complex carbohydrate, proteins and oils, are linked to lower levels of dental plaque.

Here is the latest research into plaque-busters that can help keep your mouth cavity-free.

TOOTHPASTE

Choose a toothpaste containing ingredients designed to prevent plaque. Colgate Total contains an anti-bacterial substance called triclosan which, it claims, reduces plaque and stays active in the mouth for 12 hours after use. Meanwhile Arm & Hammer's Brilliant Sparkle Gel toothpaste contains a plaque-dissolving formula that breaks the bonds attaching plaque to the tooth surface. In a trial at University Park Research Centre, Indiana, the toothpaste removed 88 per cent more plaque than a leading competitor.

POLYPHENOLS

Green tea, red wine and cranberry juice contain substances called polyphenols that reduce plaque-formation and stop cavitycausing bacteria from sticking to teeth. Trials at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in the US found that drinks such as cranberry juice may help wash away up to 50 per cent more cavity-causing bacteria from the mouth. Polyphenols can also help prevent oral bacteria from producing acids that dissolve tooth enamel. Assessing the dental health and diet of 25,000 people, a study at the University of Tohoku, Japan, found that just one cup of green tea a day was linked to better dental health and 20 per cent less risk of tooth loss. …

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