BASF, a German chemical company, is in the process of developing a chewing gum that contains a strain of lactobacillus bacteria that has the ability to prevent tooth decay. According to BASF, a gum made with lactobilius anti-caries can bring down the number of harmful oral bacteria by as much as 50 times.

“With L anti-caries we have found an antagonist which effectively binds to the caries germs and prevents them adhering to the surface of the teeth,” says Andreas Reindl, DDS, BASF spokesperson and project leader. “The effectiveness has been demonstrated and the first oral hygiene products containing probiotic lactobacilli are scheduled to appear in 2007.”

L anti-caries is found in yogurt and buttermilk. Its mode of action relates to its effect on streptococcus mutans, a strain of oral bacteria that fixes itself on the tooth enamel and releases chemicals that erode the surface of the tooth. L anti-caries prevent the streptococcus mutans from binding with the tooth enamel, thereby lowering their decay-causing effect.

Besides chewing gum, the company plans to use L anti-caries in other dental products, such as mouthwash and toothpaste.

[www.earthtimes.org, August 21, 2006]