JUNE 4, 2007
Developments to Watch
Edited by Michael Arndt
Candy bars, as everyone knows, are bad for teeth. But chocolate may actually help fight cavities. A doctoral candidate in bioinformatics at Tulane University has found that a white crystalline extract of cocoa works even better than fluoride in protecting teeth.
The powder, chemically similar to caffeine, hardened the enamel of extracted human molars while reducing harmful bacterial growth. The researcher, Arman Sadeghpour, who collaborated with other scientists in Louisiana, is now testing the compound on human gum-tissue. There is other evidence that Sadeghpour may be onto something. Researchers at Osaka University in Japan have confirmed independently that husks of cocoa beans stymie tooth-decaying bacteria. Sadeghpour has come up with a prototype toothpaste—in peppermint, not chocolate flavor—but says any product is at least two years from hitting the market, to give time for clinical trials required by the American Dental Assn. Hershey has invited Sadeghpour to share his lab results with its researchers.
Fighting Cavities With Chocolate