Lollipops…CAN Reduce Tooth Decay?

Afraid to let your kids eat too much candy and rot their teeth? Well, according to the European Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, sugar-free lollipops that contain licorice root extract “significantly reduced the bacteria that causes tooth decay,” especially with preschool children who are high-risk for tooth decay.

Researchers analyzed 66 preschool students from ages 2 to 5 who were enrolled in the Greater Lansing Area Head Start Program. Each child received a sugar-free lollipop that had licorice root extract for ten minutes, twice a day, for three weeks. Jed J. Jacobson, DDS, MD, MPH, chief science officer at Delta Dental, explained, “We are working to find simple, effective regimens that will encourage prevention and control of dental disease. While the results of this pilot clinical trial are encouraging, more research is needed to confirm these early findings.”

These early findings included a significant decrease in the primary bacteria responsible for tooth decay (Streptococcus mutans) during this three-week duration AND for 22 days after the lollipop time was over.

“The use of the licorice root lollipops is an ideal approach as it will stop the transfer and implantation of the bacteria that cause dental decay from mothers to their infants and toddlers,” Martin Curzon, editor-in-chief, European Academy of Pediatric Dentistry emphasized. “It also has the merit of being a low cost-high impact public dental health measure.”

“This study is important not only for dental caries prevention research but also demonstrates the feasibility of a classroom protocol using a unique delivery system suitable for young children,” added Jacqueline Tallman, R.D.H., B.S., M.P.A., principal investigator of the study. “Early prevention is key for lifetime oral health and effective innovative protocols are needed.”

So what are these licorice-infused lollipops and where can you get them? The lollipops used in this study were manufactured by Dr. John’s Candies of Grand Rapids, MI, of which you can easily order online. A few pharmacies also carry them, including CVS Pharmacy and Walgreens, but not every store in these chains carry them.

If you decide to start using these lollipops as the new healthier treats for your children, remember to moderate the amount. One or two a day is okay, but it’s best not to exceed this daily number (same is true for any candy, no matter how healthy it is).

The study was funded by the Research and Data Institute of the affiliated companies of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, New Mexico, and North Carolina.

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