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The Battle of the Bacteria: Probiotic Lozenges vs Tooth Decay
March 26, 2014

By Nancy Volkers
InteliHealth News Service

INTELIHEALTH - Probiotic lozenges may help to destroy the bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Researchers from Italy and Sweden did the study. It involved nearly 200 children, aged 6 through 8. All of the children had 2 or 3 areas of active tooth decay.

Children were given sugar-free lozenges to eat twice a day for 6 weeks. They were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group's lozenges contained Lactobacillus brevis. This type of bacteria has been shown to reduce mouth inflammation. The other group's lozenges did not contain the bacteria. Both types of lozenges looked, smelled and tasted the same.

Children were examined before the study started. They also were examined after 3 weeks and 6 weeks, and again 2 weeks after they had stopped using the lozenges.

The group that used the L. brevis lozenges had less acidic plaque. This group also had reduced numbers of Streptococcus mutans bacteria. These bacteria are thought to be a main cause of tooth decay. Finally, children who used the L. brevis lozenges had healthier gums after the study than the other group.

Probiotics are products that contain healthful bacteria. Their purpose is to increase levels of these organisms in the body.

Previous studies have found similar results involving other probiotics given to children in chewing gum and ice cream. A similar study using L. brevis lozenges found that people who took them had fewer symptoms of periodontal disease.

The authors recommend further and longer studies. For now, they suggest that L. brevis may potentially be a new "functional food."

The study appears in the March issue of Clinical Oral Investigations. It was previously published in the journal's online version.

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