You could soon fight tooth decay with a chewing gum, to be launched by a German chemical company though dentists say cleaning your teeth and having regular dental check-ups are a must.
The company BASF says it has discovered a new strain of Lactobacillus called L anti-caries normally found in live yoghurt which binds and destroys the Strepptococcus mutans bacteria responsible for tooth decay and bad breath, reported the science portal News Medical.
The bad bacteria Streptococcus mutans stick to the surface of teeth, where they produce an aggressive acid that breaks down the enamel. The good bacteria in the gum may make the Streptococcus mutans clump together and prevent them from becoming attached to the tooth surface.
According to Stefan Marcinowski, the executive director of research at BASF, the Lactobacillus product is due to hit supermarkets in 2007.
Marcinowski said the chewing gum "has been tested on a large number of people and has demonstrated the ability to significantly reduce bacterial levels".
A new range of toothpastes and mouthwashes using L anti-caries are also being developed, added Marcinowski.
Other tests have already shown that chewing gum containing the artificial sweetener xylitol, which has anti-microbial properties, appears to suppress the bacteria that fights tooth decay.
Dentists, however, advice that the gum will not remove the need to brush the teeth as their action is targeted against just one bacterium, and they say the best way to keep teeth in good condition is to clean them regularly and have a regular dental check every six months.