Future prospects of functional foods for the prevention of dental caries

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In Japan, various types of functional foods have been developed and widely consumed for health promortion. Some of them have been advanced for prevention of dental caries. GTase inhibitors and sugar substitutes that are not the direct cause of dental caries are actively developed and utilized as preventive foods for dental caries. Recently, functional materials which enhance the defence system of host on dental caries are further added to those foods. For example, there are functional materials that promote re-mineralization of tooth and stimulate saliva excretion to block oral pH decline. The probiotics which improves oral bacterial flora may also be expected to be one of these functions. If functional materials that have different types of preventive effect for dental caries are combined in a functional food, the potential of functional foods may expand the food market for health promotion.

It is important that intraoral pH does not decline for prevention of dental caries among children, aduts and elderlies. So, sweeten confections between meals must have a resistance for utilization by mutans streptococci. However, dental caries cannot be completely prevented by the utilization of functional foods, although the risk of dental caries is decreased. Therefore, the combination of teeth brushing after meal and functional foods is very important for prevention of dental caries among all people. Furthermore, consumers need to pay attention, when they utilize some functional foods containing nondigestible oligosaccharide which improves the intestinal microbiota, because it produces acids to decrease oral pH.

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