Amino Acid Could Someday Improve Oral Health

Friday, June 5th, 2015, 9:06 pm

The amino acid, L-arginine, a naturally occurring substance, has been found to break down dental plaque. This is great news because getting rid of dental plaque could help everyone avoid cavities and gum disease.

What is dental plaque and why is it so bad? Dental plaque is a biofilm that forms on the surface of the teeth. Biofilms are slimy, sticky substances that form when bacteria are in a wet environment, like your mouth. The bacteria form colonies and excrete a substance that allows them to stick to teeth. It is these bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease.

L-arginine is found in dietary proteins such as red meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. It is already being used in dental products that are designed for sensitive teeth.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Newcastle University discovered that the amino acid could stop the formation of dental plaque. “This is important as bacteria like to aggregate on surafaces to form biofilms,” said Alexander Rickard of the University of Michigan. “Biofilms account for more than 50 percent of hospital infections. Dental plaque biofilms contribute to the billions of dollars of dental treatments and office visits every year in the United States.”

It has been estimated that almost 40 percent of Americans have moderate to severe gum disease. In people over age 65 the rate of gum disease rises to 64 percent. Untreated gum disease leads to much more than tooth loss. The inflammation and bacteria associated with gum disease have been linked to health problems throughout the body including heart disease and diabetes.

The researchers have not yet discovered exactly how L-arginine causes the biofilm to disintegrate, but further studies will be done. In the meantime, brush, floss and visit your dental hygienist regularly to protect your smile and keep dental plaque away!

If your teeth are feeling a little fuzzy – it is probably dental plaque. Please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today at 706-391-8777 to schedule your next visit.


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Category: cavities, gum disease

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