A recent study (published in PLOS ONE), has found that the amino acid L-arginine destroys the bacteria which cause cavities and gum disease.
L-arginine is a common amino acid found naturally in red meat, poultry, fish, soy and certain dairy products. It helps rid people’s teeth of destructive biofilms that cause poor oral health.
Foods with Arginine
Photo credit Creative Commons: Poultry India
L-arginine is currently being included in certain toothpaste formulations as it is thought to protect against dentine hypersensitivity. The study shows that the same concentrations of L-arginine potentially can control dental plaque formation, and may be beneficial in protecting against gum disease.
Presently, most methods for dental plaque control involve the use of antimicrobial agents, such as pyrophosphate or triclosan (See Toothpaste: Poison or Panacea blog), which are toxic chemicals aimed at killing plaque bacteria. These antimicrobial chemicals have been the subject of debate about overuse in recent years.
Researchers say the mechanism for how L-arginine causes the disintegration of the biofilms needs further study. These initial findings show that arginine can change how cells stick together, and can trigger bacteria within biofilms to alter how they behave so that they no longer stick to surfaces.
Further clinical trials and studies are planned, but the authors say these early results are promising and indicate that L-arginine could take the place of current plaque-controlling substances.
Moving forward with this, it is worth looking into taking L-arginine as a nutritional supplement, and perhaps adding a bit to you homemade toothpaste.
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