Here’s a sweet idea: a cavity-fighting candy.
A recent discovery in dental care could soon make it possible. Researchers at Stony Brook University have found a new way to fight tooth decay by mimicking the powerful re-mineralizing benefits of saliva, long known to naturally protect teeth from harmful, cavity-causing bacteria.
A two-year study in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Dentistry found that CaviStat, a calcium/arginine-based product, was more effective than fluoride in fighting tooth decay when used in toothpaste form. The study, involving 726 children, found the group using CaviStat had 58 percent fewer cavities than those using over-the-counter fluoride toothpaste.
The research opens the door for a variety of cavity-fighting, sugarless candies, said Mitch Goldberg, president of Ortek Therapeutics Inc., which has licensing rights to CaviStat.
While BasicMints, Ortek’s first candy-based product, is not yet available, the Roslyn Heights-based company sells CaviStat toothpaste as DenClude for sensitive teeth and ProClude, a polishing paste used by dental hygienists.
People will be able to have two candies in the morning and two candies at night, which should dramatically reduce tooth decay, Goldberg said.
Dr. Page Caufield, professor of cariology for the New York University College of Dentistry, who wasn’t involved in the research, said CaviStat is an exciting development. “It gives us an alternative to fluoride,” Caufield said.
Caufield said the remarkable clinical trial results, which uncovered no side effects from CaviStat, still require additional studies to confirm results.
The clinical methodology and accuracy of fluoride trials in the 1940s and 1950s have come under attack in recent years, primarily by European researchers who have been unable to duplicate early trial results.
Dr. Israel Kleinberg, lead researcher and founding chairman of the Department of Oral Biology and Pathology School of Dental Medicine at Stony Brook, said cavities commonly develop in back teeth where food and candy get trapped.
Dental plaque, a sticky biofilm of bacteria that grows on tooth surfaces, starts when sugars are broken down to acids, which erode teeth over time. CaviStat contains arginine, an amino acid in saliva, which breaks down to produce acid-neutralizing alkali.
“CaviStat can be considered to be a super-saliva complex that picks up where fluoride has left off,” said Kleinberg, whose 30 years of research culminated in the development of the cavity-fighting candy.