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NOVEMBER 20, 2017 by MAE CHAN
Researchers Discover Effective Natural Anticavity Herb


As a natural traditional Chinese medicine, Galla chinensis has been widely used since ancient times for its astringency, stypticity, detoxification, and antibacterial activity. In a new finding, researchers in China report that active ingredients in the herb could one day lead to natural anti-cavity products.


Children's cavities are on the rise, and children today who have cavities are requiring more expensive and extensive dental surgery to hide the problems of dental decay.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there was an increase in the number of preschool children with cavities, for the first time in 40 years.

The scientists from West China School of Stomatology and Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam have figured out the main active ingredient of Galla Chinensis, a natural herb, and further improved its anti-caries efficacy. Their findings are published in The Open Dentistry Journal.

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.

Galla Chinensis originates from the abnormal growth of the Rhus leaf tissue in response to secretion of parasitic aphids (family Pemphigidae). It has been used for thousands of years due to its antibacterial, antiviral, anticaries, antioxidative, anticancer, live-protective, antidiabetic, antidiarrheal, anti-inflammatory and antithrombin activity.

The research team of West China School of Stomatology has 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 mineralization benefit. Galla Chinensis also possesses substantial antiviral, anticancer, hepatoprotective, antidiarrheal and antioxidant activities. However, the main active ingredient of Galla Chinensis is unknown, which restricts the application in dentistry.

In the present study, 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 demineralization 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" concluded Xuelian Huang, PhD, DDS, the lead author.

In dental caries, significant reductions in caries prevalence and incidence have been made by the introduction of fluoride. It is not a total cure, however, 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.


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