Cavity-reducing ice-cream? Kids’ dream come true!


Photo: Tuelekza | Dreamstime.com

Photo: Tuelekza | Dreamstime.com

There’s at least a few million children out there whose prayers are being answered by scientists. According to a study, ice cream with probiotics added in could boost oral health in children. If so, consuming the ice-cream would help prevent cavities, gum disease and bad breath, and destroy any argument a parent might have for why little Raja or Rani may not have some ice cream after dinner.

The study, conducted by researchers at Kannur Dental College and Navodaya Dental College in India, split a group of 60 children into two groups, one which received ice cream containing probiotics, and another which received ice cream without any added probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria that are considered to be beneficial to health, as opposed to many other bacteria that cause health problems.

One such bacteria that causes dental decay is Streptococcus mutans, which gathers on the surface of teeth and builds a layer of plaque. The bacteria convert sugar to acid, which damages tooth enamel. Researchers took saliva samples to test for this bacteria at the beginning of the trial, after seven days of eating ice-cream, and 30 days and 6 months after that.

According to Food Navigator, the results suggested that the probiotic ice cream was responsible for considerable reductions in counts of S. mutans in the children after one week of daily consumption of the ice cream. The group that did not get the probiotics saw no significant changes in the S. mutans bacteria levels. The reductions were maintained until day 30, even though the ice cream was stopped after one week.

The effects wore off by six months and the S. mutans levels were back to what the were before. “For long term reduction of salivary S. mutans levels, the ingestion of probiotic organisms should be given for longer intervals,” wrote the researchers in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research. You may now want to hide your copy of the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research which published this study.

The researchers could not explain how it works, but said that the results of this study were in line with several others that showed that various products containing probiotics, especially dairy products, do have an effect on the level of S. mutans. “Further studies on the long term or synergetic effect of the probiotic organisms on the caries causative bacteria, oral health and optimum dosage of the probiotic organisms are still need to be explored.”

In light of these results, adults may also want to get into the wishing game. Here is to hoping for fried food that prevents heart attacks, sweets that cause weight loss and beer that builds stomachs as flat as Shah Rukh Khan’s.

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