Sweet dental remedies
We all know the sweet flavor of Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice); some of us don’t know that licorice is a legume; also, they don’t know that some of the sweet (or salty!) “licorice-flavored” candies and confectioneries they buy are not licorice at all, but similar tasting anise. Natural, unprocessed licorice as well as natural licorice extract manufactured in Italy are not uncommon in Europe and are often used as mouth fresheners due to the intense taste comparable with fennel, tarragon and star anise flavors.
Anyway, even in its raw, unsweetened form, licorice is very sweet, a lot sweeter than sucrose: how come dentists recommend it for your teeth? Besides being nice flavored, licorice root is believed to have health benefits, which apparently go beyond the usual effect against the symptoms of common cold; often used in traditional Chinese, Egyptian and Greek medicine, licorice actually has strong antibacterial properties that can help fight against periodontal issues, resistant mouth thrush, and tooth decay; both long-established and modern natural health practices advocate the use of this phenomenal ingredient. The curative qualities of this sweet root have ensured its privileged position as an ingredient in all kinds of herbal medicine recipes, such as those used for treating canker sores and other mouth ulcerations; as an alternative dental hygiene product, licorice root extracts have often been recommended by a number of practitioners; licorice root has been proven to hinder the spread of herpes virus with topical application; it also helps decrease several types of inflammations.
Effectiveness and limitations of licorice use in dental care
The bioactive ingredients of this sweet root can improve all sorts of common oral conditions. Yet, dried licorice root can kill only some of the bacteria that cause gum problems and dental decay; you would still have to go to the dentist, but the benefits can be significant: by diminishing the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth in a matter of seconds, the yellowish and fibrous licorice root treats can help you have a healthier mouth. The anticariogenic properties of licorice appear to be limited, so we recommend our patients to benefit from its advantages as much as possible keeping in mind that chewing a licorice candy on a daily basis cannot replace brushing routine and cannot override the need for professional dental care services.