When it comes to maintaining healthy teeth, you know the drill—brush, floss, rinse, repeat. After all, annihilating plaque is key in keeping your pearly whites pearly... and white. Now, researchers at the University of Michigan and Newcastle University have discovered another way to combat plaque—and it's delicious.
The study, published in Plos One, revealed that arginine, an amino acid naturally found in foods like red meat, poultry, fish and dairy products, may actually stop the formation of dental plaque. Considering 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. have untreated tooth decay and 40 percent have moderate-to-severe periodontitis, this discovery could help millions of people avoid cavities and gum disease.
"At present, around 10-to-15 percent of adults in the Western world have advanced periodontitis, which can lead to loose teeth and even the loss of teeth. Therefore, there is a clear need for better methods to control dental plaque," Nick Jakubovics, a lecturer at Newcastle University's School of Dental Sciences, said in a statement.
Researchers used a model to mimic the oral cavity and were able to grow the various bacteria found in dental plaque using natural human saliva, giving the team solid intel on what naturally occurs in the mouth.
While the exact play-by-play of how arginine protects our chompers still needs further study, current findings suggest it "can change how cells stick together, and can trigger bacteria within biofilms to alter how they behave so they no longer stick to surfaces."
Since you're probably a fan of healthy teeth, here's a roundup of 23 foods with uber-high levels of arginine you may want to consider noshing on more often:
Veggies + Vegetable Products
- Pumpkin leaves
- Mustard greens
- Mung beans
From the Organic Authority Files
- Eggs (raw or cooked)
Nuts + Seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Watermelon seeds
How do you keep your healthy teeth... well, healthy?
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Healthy teeth image via Shutterstock