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​A Mushroom a Day Keeps the Dentist and Cardiologist Away

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Coming to a store near you… mushroom cookies!

In the last few years, several mushroom extracts have been patented for use in “dental health foods” (Kato, Kikuchi et al.; Nam ; Sekiya, Konda et al.) Imagine eating all the confections you want and never getting a cavity because the cookies are laced with mushrooms. Not only will mushrooms make cookies tooth-friendly, they also can be added to any other refined carbohydrates, which are so bad for our teeth. Yay, science!

Cavities and gingivitis start off as a microbial community embedded in an organized matrix of bacteria, food and your own saliva, forming a biofilm. Your mouth is a delicate balance of hundreds of “good” and “bad” bacteria. Most of these microbial inhabitants are harmless, but certain drinks (sodas and fruit juices) and foods (processed sugars and starches) can shift the balance in favor of the few bad bacteria that form biofilms, which can lead to cavities or gingivitis. Biofilms actually change the environment on the surface of your teeth, making it a home where bad bacteria like Streptococci or Neisseria can thrive and dig into your tooth enamel and gums.

Biofilms are nothing new to dentistry. Back in the 17 th century, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, “the father of microbiology,” first used a microscope to see aggregates of bacteria he’d scraped off his teeth (Chandki, Banthia et al. 2011). But only recently has it come to light that biofilms have other effects on our health.

Bacteria in biofilms are now thought to cause up to 65 percent of human infections. In an impenetrable biofilm, the inaccessibility of the bacteria makes them more resistant to the immune system and antibiotics (Samaranayke 2006). Several systemic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, are thought to be linked to gingivitis biofilms (Li, Kolltveit et al. 2000; Leishman, Do et al. 2010). Studies have revealed coronary artery plaques that contain some of the same species of bacteria as periodontal biofilms (Gaetti-Jardim, Marcelino et al. 2009; Ohki, Itabashi et al. 2012; Armingohar, Jørgensen et al. 2014).

Most biofilms can be easily removed with good dental hygiene. Even so, people who brush their teeth regularly still get cavities and gingivitis. That’s because the biofilms can calcify, making them difficult to remove.

Strong mouthwash can kill most bacteria, which means it can also throw off the balance of good bacteria, leaving your mouth an empty niche where bad bacteria can easily move in and start up a biofilm residence. Functional foods like mushrooms, on the other hand, can kill the bad bacteria and remove biofilms while leaving the good bacteria (Ciric, Tymon et al. 2011).

Biofilms can form on almost any surface, including deep in soil. So it would make sense that fungi, which live in soil, have evolved mechanisms to kill pathogens while preserving good bacteria.

In studies, several mushrooms have been shown to prevent bacterial adhesion, biofilms, cavities, periodontal disease and inflammation.  Those include lion's mane, pearl oyster, shiitake and reishi (Signoretto, Burlacchini et al. 2011; Signoretto, Marchi et al. 2014; Sekiya, Konda et al. ; Zaura, Buijs et al. 2011) . All varieties that can be easily grown on kits. So if you want to stay healthy, you can start by regularly eating mushrooms.

Armingohar, Z., J. J. Jørgensen, et al. (2014). "Bacteria and bacterial DNA in atherosclerotic plaque and aneurysmal wall biopsies from patients with and without periodontitis." Journal of Oral Microbiology 6: 10.3402/jom.v3406.23408.

Chandki, R., P. Banthia, et al. (2011). "Biofilms: A microbial home." Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology 15(2): 111-114.

Ciric, L., A. Tymon, et al. (2011). "In Vitro Assessment of Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinula edodes) Extract for Its Antigingivitis Activity." Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology .

Gaetti-Jardim, E., S. L. Marcelino, et al. (2009). "Quantitative detection of periodontopathic bacteria in atherosclerotic plaques from coronary arteries." Journal of Medical Microbiology 58(12): 1568-1575.

Kato, H., A. Kikuchi, et al. Dental caries prevention composition e.g. for foodstuff comprises water soluble extraction component derived from mushroom as active ingredient, IWATE KEN (IWAT-Non-standard) UNIV IWATE MEDICAL (UYIW-Non-standard) : 12.

Leishman, S. J., H. L. Do, et al. (2010). "Cardiovascular disease and the role of oral bacteria." Journal of Oral Microbiology 2: 10.3402/jom.v3402i3400.5781.

Li, X., K. M. Kolltveit, et al. (2000). "Systemic Diseases Caused by Oral Infection." Clinical Microbiology Reviews 13(4): 547-558.

Nam, J. W. Composition of powder dentifrice agent for preventing dental plague, is obtained by blending bamboo salt, wheat flour, rosin, nelumbinis-fructus meat, Asiasarum roots and enokitake mushroom, NAM J W (NAMJ-Individual) : 14.

Ohki, T., Y. Itabashi, et al. (2012). "Detection of periodontal bacteria in thrombi of patients with acute myocardial infarction by polymerase chain reaction." American Heart Journal 163(2): 164-167.

Samaranayke, L. P. (2006). Microbiology for Dentistry, Elsevier Health Sciences.

Sekiya, A., H. Konda, et al. Agent used in composition for oral cavity or food-drink product for treating bacterial infection e.g. dental caries, comprises water and/or organic solvent extract of Ascomycetes or Basidiomycetes e.g. oyster mushroom, Lotte Co Ltd (Lott-C) : 21.

Signoretto, C., G. Burlacchini, et al. (2011). "Testing a low molecular mass fraction of a mushroom ( Lentinus edodes) extract formulated as an oral rinse in a cohort of volunteers." Journal of Biomedicine & Biotechnology 2011: Article ID 857987.

Signoretto, C., A. Marchi, et al. (2014). "The anti-adhesive mode of action of a purified mushroom (Lentinus edodes) extract with anticaries and antigingivitis properties in two oral bacterial pathogens." Bmc Complementary and Alternative Medicine 14.

Zaura, E., M. J. Buijs, et al. (2011). "The Effects of Fractions from Shiitake Mushroom on Composition and Cariogenicity of Dental Plaque Microcosms in an In Vitro Caries Model." Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology .