Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Chinese pickles could help prevent dental caries

By Jeremy Booth, DTI
June 17, 2020

CHENGDU, China: An increasing number of probiotic solutions are being found to be effective in the treatment of dental caries. In a recent study, researchers at Sichuan University in Chengdu and the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba in Israel isolated probiotic Lactobacillus strains from traditional Sichuan pickles and found that one strain in particular reduced Streptococcus mutans, which supports the diffusion of oral biofilm structure, by 98.4%.

In the first study of its kind on the relationship between Sichuan pickles and oral health, the researchers sought to explore in vitro and in vivo the anti-caries activity of the Lactobacillus strains found in the pickles.

They collected 14 samples of the pickles and extracted 54 Lactobacillus strains from them. In in vitro tests, Lactobacillus plantarum K41 (K41) showed the highest inhibitory effect on the growth of S. mutans and on the formation of exopolysaccharides and biofilm. The inhibition rate of K41 was found to be 98.4%. The researchers later treated rats with K41 and observed a marked reduction in both the incidence and severity of dental caries in them.

In the study, the authors commented: “Due to K41’s origin in a high salinity environment, it [also] showed a high tolerance to acids and salts. This may give this strain an advantage in harsh oral conditions. Results showed that [K41] isolated from traditional Sichuan pickles effectively inhibited [S. mutans] biofilm formation and thus possesses a potential inhibitory effect on dental caries in vivo.”

According to the study, using probiotics as a novel therapy to target cariogenic bacteria has gained popularity owing to the living microbes’ ability to target the S. mutans without disturbing the balance of the oral cavity.

The authors noted that previous studies on the control of caries using L. plantarum had only been performed in vitro and that few studies had been performed on probiotics that can be added directly to daily foods.

Traditional Sichuan pickles are a popular fermented product in China. The authors wrote that numerous health benefits are conferred to the pickles through the presence of the microorganisms that contribute to the fermentation process.

The study, titled “Inhibition of Streptococcus mutans biofilm formation and virulence by Lactobacillus plantarum K41 isolated from traditional Sichuan pickles”, was published online on 30 April 2020 in Frontiers in Microbiology.

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