Surprising Dental Health Benefits of Licorice
One surprising ally in the battle against these two dental culprits is licorice root. Research suggests that dried licorice root is good for oral health.
It’s an unfortunate fact of American life: tooth decay and gum disease are all-too-common problems. In fact, recent studies have shown that over 90% of American adults have had some form of tooth decay in their lifetimes.
Not only that, but nearly 60% of teenagers have experienced tooth decay, and over 40% of children have experienced it by the age of 11. But that’s only part of the startling statistics.
Experts believe that nearly 80% of American adults may be suffering from gum disease and not even been aware of it. Gum disease isn’t only bad for your gums and teeth, but it’s also been directly connected to many types of heart and lung disease. Obviously, fighting tooth decay and gum disease should be a priority for all of us.
One surprising ally in the battle against these two dental culprits is licorice root. Research suggests that dried licorice root is good for oral health. In fact, it has shown to be very effective in fighting cavities and gum disease.
Licorice root was used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Thought to enhance the effects of other herbs, dried licorice root was also used to treat conditions such as sore throat, coughs, arthritis, liver disorders and food poisoning.
Recent studies have shown that the two compounds found in licorice root—licoricidin and licorisoflavan A—act to reduce the growth of the bacteria in our mouths that cause plaque buildup and eventual tooth decay, as well as the bacteria that cause gum disease and periodontitis.
But think twice before you reach for that stick of licorice candy! The vast majority of licorice candy in the U.S. is flavored with anise rather than licorice root. And, although licorice root supplements are available, you should use caution before giving them a try.
Most of these supplements contain glychrrhizin, which can raise your blood pressure, lower your potassium levels, and cause you to retain water and salt.
Pregnant women should avoid licorice root supplements altogether, and those taking other forms of medication should watch for harmful interactions with the supplements and prescription drugs.
Although the research is promising, we might still have a way to go before there’s a safe way to derive the apparent dental benefits of licorice. In the meantime, it’s always wise to remember the long-known, traditional dental hygiene advice.
Brush and floss at least twice a day. Avoid foods and drinks with too much sugar and acidic foods. Visit your dentist twice a year for regular professional cleanings. If you do decide to try a licorice root supplement, it’s best to discuss it first with your doctor and dentist.
They can give you the best advice on the possible benefits, as well as help to guard against any unwanted side effects. While we’re not quite there yet, if other studies continue to produce such impressive results, we may very well be saying someday in the not-too-distant future, “Pass the licorice, please!”
Robert Milton is a dental health blogger who writes for www.smileaustin.com, a comprehensive dentist located in Austin, Texas who treats patients of all ages with preventative dental care, mercury-free fillings, teeth whitening, and more. You can find Dr. John Glennon and his dental team at Austin Dental Center, PC, 2304 Hancock Drive #1, Austin, TX 78756, or call (512) 298-1212.
Categories: Nutrition, Oral Hygiene, Teeth
Topics: Tags: acidic foods, american adults, cause gum disease, cause plaque, chinese medicine, dental benefit, dental health, dental team, dentist, free