On That Proverbial Spoonful of Sugar

First, there were the lollipops.

Then there were the mints.

Then came the gummy bears.

And now, presenting the next greatest cavity-fighter ever: ice cream!

Not just any old ice cream, though. Super special probiotic ice cream.

The researchers chose ice cream for this study because of its universal appeal, particularly among children. The probiotic ice cream used in the study was prepared by adding a freeze-dried culture of probiotic strains of Bifidobacterium lactis Bb-12 and Lactobacillus acidophilus La-5 and was manufactured by Amul, India, the authors explained. Both the probiotic ice cream and the control ice cream (no probiotic) had a vanilla flavor.

As ever, the basic idea: knock out or inhibit S. mutans and other pathogenic microbes involved in tooth decay. And did it work?

Well, just over 1/3 of the subjects showed a reduction of S. mutans in their saliva after eating the probiotic ice cream. But many with high bacterial counts got no effect. Maybe, speculated the authors, they needed a longer intervention or more “washout” time between eating the control and probiotic sample.

The full citation and abstract are available here.

Now, we understand the appeal of this kind of preventive approach. Most kids – and adults – are going to eat sweets no matter what. You have to help people by meeting them where they are, right?

And yet, where so many of us wind up is in a vicious cycle of unhealthy habits that fuel illness and dysfunction. We eat poorly. We take drugs to suppress symptoms yet don’t get to the root causes of illness. We’re sedentary, distracted, stressed. We reach for the quick fix, even if it makes us feel worse in the long run.

Some have said that addicts don’t so much crave their substance of choice as they crave the relief it will bring from withdrawal. Feeding their addiction, they perpetuate it.

Similarly, interventions like “decay-fighting sweets” may reinforce the kinds of behaviors that raise the risk of decay. Yes, it’s harder to change behaviors, but it’s a surer, longer-lasting means to good oral (and physical) health.

As one dentist put it in an article we cited in our previous post on S. mutans,

I’m always open to new research that may offer suggestions for patients to avoid dental decay, and everyone would like there to be an easier way (just drink this or eat that), but brush, floss, and see your dentist is still the best. It’s not sexy, but it works.

Images by stevendepolo & Caro Wallis, via Flickr

There will be no post on Monday.

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About The Verigin Dental Health Team

A humanistic, holistic dental practice in Northern California, providing integrative, biological, mercury-free dentistry
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