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Amino acids could improve oral health

Those working in dental practices know how difficult it can be to encourage people to take their oral health seriously. However, a new study could provide a solution that is easy to include as part of an everyday diet.

Arginine, a common amino acid found naturally in foods like red meat, poultry and dairy products, breaks down dental plaque and could help millions of people avoid cavities and gum disease.

Researchers from the University of Michigan (U-M) and Newcastle University found that arginine was able to stop the formation of dental plaque. 

Alexander Rickard, assistant professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health, and colleagues, said biofilms, like dental plaque, account for more than 50 per cent of all hospital infections. In addition, dental plaque biofilms contribute to the billions of dollars of dental treatments every year.

These dental biofilms are also the main cause of cavities, gingivitis and periodontal disease. However, most methods for removing them include using chemicals to kill the bacteria, which can also affect sense of taste and stain teeth. 

The team used arginine in the lab to see whether it could replace the current plaque-controlling biocide substances.

Published in PLOS ONE, the study found that arginine can change how cells stick together, and can trigger bacteria within biofilms to alter how they behave so that they no longer stick to surfaces, according to the researchers.

When considering marketing materials for dental practices it may be good to consider informing patients about the natural ways they can prevent problems with their oral health, such as having a good diet and brushing twice a day.

“At present, around ten to 15 per cent of adults in the Western world have advanced periodontitis, which can lead to loose teeth and even the loss of teeth. Therefore, there is a clear need for better methods to control dental plaque,” said Nick Jakubovics, a lecturer at Newcastle University’s School of Dental Sciences.

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