Fighting Tooth Decay with Licorice

Licorice root could be the dentist’s nightmare come true – a “candy” that actually prevents cavities. Researchers at UCLA have demonstrated that an extract from the plant root used to make all sorts of candies and other products contains at least two chemicals that block replication of the bacterium Streptococcus mutans, a major cause of dental caries.

Qing-Yi Lu and Wenyuan Shi point out that more studies are needed before these compounds could ever be considered as additives for cavity-thwarting toothpaste or mouthwash. Chinese medicine has used licorice root for centuries and it is only recently that western science has been alerted to its potential in reducing inflammation, fighting viruses, and healing ulcers.

A word of caution though, too much licorice, whether in licorice candies, tea, or other foods, can trigger high blood pressure in susceptible people, far outweighing the protective effects on your teeth.