Scientists have identified a Chinese herb which may help prevent dental caries due to its antibacterial capacity and tooth mineralisation benefit. Researchers, including those from West China School of Stomatology, figured out the main active ingredient of Galla Chinensis, a natural herb, and further improved its anti-caries efficacy.
To maintain a healthy mouth, the oral environment must be relatively neutral. When the environment in the mouth becomes more acidic, dental cavities or other disorders may develop. Galla Chinensis was revealed to inhibit the acid production of caries-associated bacteria as well as make teeth more resistant to acidic attack.
The researchers tested hundreds of Chinese herbs and identified that Galla Chinensis has a strong potential to prevent dental caries due to its antibacterial capacity and tooth mineralisation benefit. Galla Chinensis also possesses substantial antiviral, anticancer, hepatoprotective, antidiarrheal and antioxidant activities, researchers said.
However, the main active ingredient of Galla Chinensis is unknown, which restricts the application in dentistry. In the study, published in The Open Dentistry Journal. several Galla Chinensis extracts with different main ingredients were obtained and determined by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis.
The antibacterial capacity was determined using the polymicrobial biofilms model, which can generate reproducible plaque-like biofilms that occur in vivo. The effect of inhibiting tooth demineralisation was tested using an in vitro pH-cycling regime, which mimicked the periodic pH change in mouth.
“Medium molecular weight gallotannins are the most active constituent in terms of caries prevention,” said Xuelian Huang, lead author of the study. In dental caries, significant reductions in caries prevalence and incidence have been made by the introduction of fluoride, researchers said.
However, it is not a total cure and there is still a need to seek products complementary to fluoride. With these new findings, the research team is working with the industry to develop new oral care products.