An important ingredient in classic candy is actually a safe and effective way of taking care of your oral health. Studies suggested that the dried root of licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) can be used as a natural alternative to chemical toothpaste and harsh mouthwashes.
Licorice is mostly known for adding flavor to confectionery and foods. It has fallen out of favor, though, and so-called “licorice candy” is actually flavored with anise oil, as previously noted. Here Joanne Washburn, Food.news, reflects on maintaining good oral health with licorice root:
“Good oral health translates to good overall health. After all, dental problems like cavities can affect your ability to eat and speak properly and can even cause pain and bad breath. Our ancestors certainly understood that, which is why they used effective natural ingredients like licorice root to keep their gums and teeth clean.
Licorice root has a long history of use as an herbal medicine. The ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Indians used it to treat various ailments, including lung and kidney diseases. Chewing on licorice root was also said to help prevent tooth decay.
Thousands of years later, studies are giving credence to the use of licorice root for maintaining good oral health. Experts have found that powerful compounds in licorice root called chalcones have antibacterial properties that can help reduce the growth of bacteria associated with cavities, gum disease and other dental problems.
Licorice root for optimal oral health
Licorice root contains compounds called chalcones, which are known for their antibacterial properties. Studies have shown that chalcones display excellent antibacterial activity against Streptococcus mutans.
S. mutans is a bacterium that naturally forms inside our mouths. It can build up on the surfaces of teeth and is the main contributor to tooth decay and cavities. Experts believe chalcones work by stopping the activity of an enzyme needed by S. mutans to attach to surfaces.
Aside from chalcones, licorice contains two compounds that may help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, namely, licoricidin and licorisoflavan A. These compounds are thought to suppress the growth of cavity-causing bacteria, specifically S. mutans and S. sobrinus.”
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