Candy will probably always pad your waistline, but because of a new line of germ-coated sweets, perhaps it won't rot your teeth.
Scientists at Organo Balance, the German company that manufactures a new "cavity-free" candy, explain in a short-term pilot study funded by BASF New Business that a bacteria called streptococcus mutans is the main culprit responsible for tooth decay.
The treacherously named microbe converts simple sugars found in the mouth into an enamel-eroding acid. Over time, according to the study published in the journal Probiotics and Antimicrobial Proteins, the acid builds up a sticky film of plaque that tunnels through the surface of the teeth, creating tiny holes that become cavities.
But it turns out there's another bacteria - lactobacillus paracasei - that prevents the acid from attacking your teeth. Organo Balance scientists found they could bind a dead version of the good bacteria to the surface of sugary sucking candies to help capture and neutralize the "bad" bacteria. Organo Balance's tests found low levels of streptococcus after eating the candy, which could potentially lead to significantly fewer cavities for candy addicts.
Good as this sounds, New York City dentist Barry Kramer expressed a few doubts.
"We dentists always say when you put a crown in a mouth it's like putting a jewel in a sewer - that's how much bacteria is swimming in your mouth," Kramer said. " I doubt that a quick fix like this would do much good."
Kramer said chewing sugarless gum might help clean the mouth by stimulating saliva flow, but the only chemical known to conclusively prevent cavities is fluoride. He said if you want healthy teeth, brush and floss regularly and don't look for any kind of candy to solve your dental woes.
No word yet on when the candy will hit the U.S. market.