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Scientists are reporting identification of two substances in licorice - used extensively in Chinese traditional medicine - that kill the major bacteria responsible for tooth decay and gum disease, the leading causes of tooth loss in children and adults. In a study in ACS' Journal of Natural Products, they say that these substances could have a role in treating and preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Stefan Gafner and colleagues explain that the dried root of the licorice plant is a common treatment in Chinese traditional medicine, especially as a way to enhance the activity of other herbal ingredients or as a flavoring. Despite the popularity of licorice candy in the U.S., licorice root has been replaced in domestic candy with anise oil, which has a similar flavor. Traditional medical practitioners use dried licorice root to treat various ailments, such as respiratory and digestive problems, but few modern scientific studies address whether licorice really works. (Consumers should check with their health care provider before taking licorice root because it can have undesirable effects and interactions with prescription drugs.) To test whether the sweet root could combat the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities, the researchers took a closer look at various substances in licorice. They found that two of the licorice compounds, licoricidin and licorisoflavan A, were the most effective antibacterial substances. These substances killed two of the major bacteria responsible for dental cavities and two of the bacteria that promote gum disease. One of the compounds - licoricidin - also killed a third gum disease bacterium. The researchers say that these substances could treat or even prevent oral infections. The American Chemical Society is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

 

 
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It is now possible to use dental X-rays to predict who is at risk of fractures, reveals a new study from researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy reported in the journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology. In a previous study, researchers from the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy and Region Västra Götaland demonstrated that a sparse bone structure in the trabecular bone in the lower jaw is linked to a greater chance of having previously had fractures in other parts of the body. X-rays investigates bone structure The Gothenburg researchers have now taken this a step further with a new study that shows that it is possible to use dental X-rays to investigate the bone structure in the lower jaw, and so predict who is at greater risk of fractures in the future. Published in the journal Bone, the results were also mentioned in both Nature Reviews Endocrinology and the Wall Street Journal. Linked to risk of fractures "We've seen that sparse bone structure in the lower jaw in mid-life is directly linked to the risk of fractures in other parts of the body, later in life,"says Lauren Lissner, a researcher at the Institute of Medicine at the Sahlgrenska Academy. Study started 1968 The study draws on data from the Prospective Population Study of Women in Gothenburg started in 1968. Given that this has now been running for over 40 years, the material is globally unique. The study included 731 women, who have been examined on several occasions since 1968, when they were 38-60 years old. X-ray images of their jaw bone were analysed in 1968 and 1980 and the results related to the incidence of subsequent fractures. For the first 12 years fractures were self-reported during followup examinations. It is only since the 1980s that it has been possible to use medical registers to identify fractures. A total of 222 fractures were identified during the whole observation period. One out of five in higher risk The study shows that the bone structure of the jaw was sparse in around 20% of the women aged 38-54 when the first examination was carried out, and that these women were at significantly greater risk of fractures. The study also shows that the older the person, the stronger the link between sparse bone structure in the jaw and fractures in other parts of the body. Applies for both sexes Although the study was carried out on women, the researchers believe that the link also applies for men. "Dental X-rays contain lots of information on bone structure," says Grethe Jonasson, the researcher at the Research Centre of the Public Dental Service in Västra Götaland who initiated the fractures study. "By analysing these images, dentists can identify people who are at greater risk of fractures long before the first fracture occurs."