The candy, developed by Christine Lang of the Berlin biotech firm Organobalance and her colleagues, contains dead bacteria that bind to the bacteria most likely to cause cavities.
Subjects who ate the candy had reduced levels of ‘bad’ bacteria in their mouths. After eating, bacteria attached to the surface of the teeth release an acid that dissolves the tooth enamel, leading to cavities.
Researchers said that the strain of bacteria most likely to cause cavities is mutans streptococci. Another type of bacteria, Lactobacillus paracasei, found in kefir, reduces levels of mutans streptococci and decreases the number of cavities in rats, researchers found.
Sugar on the surface of L paracasei binds with mutans streptococci. Researchers believe that by binding with mutans streptococci, L paracasei prevents mutans streptococci from re-attaching to teeth.
To test whether L paracasei could help prevent cavities in people, Lang and her team developed a sugar-free candy containing heat-killed samples of the bacteria. They then tested the candy on a group of 60 volunteers.
After the experiment, about three-fourths of the people who had eaten candies with bacteria had significantly lower levels of mutans streptococci in their saliva than they had had the day before, the report said.
Subjects who consumed candies with two milligrammes of bacteria experienced a reduction in mutans streptococci levels after eating the first candy.
By using dead bacteria, they were able to avoid problems live bacteria might have caused, researchers said.


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