bowl of wasabi next to sushi platterDo you really enjoy your sushi? We do, and can often be seen at restaurants like Ginger Asian Bistro in Spokane or Toro Sushi in Spokane Valley, for lunch or dinner. Being dentists we’re always thinking about things oral health related, and that led us to wonder whether wasabi, that spicy green condiment that compliments sushi so well, could protect your teeth from decay. The good news is that some research has been done into this possibility, and shows some promise. The bad news is that it’s very weak research and says little about the potential benefits.

The Good News about Wasabi

The good news about wasabi is that it has definite antibacterial properties, which is probably part of the reason why it became such a commonly-used condiment with raw fish. Because tooth decay is caused by oral bacteria, this makes it likely that wasabi could reduce a person’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth infections. There is even some promising research in this direction.

The Bad News about Wasabi

Unfortunately, it’s a little premature to start talking about wasabi toothpaste, because the research doesn’t really provide strong support for its ability to impact oral health. Although some articles claim that the research about wasabi’s effectiveness on oral bacteria was published in Bio factors, if you look at the published paper, there is no mention of these findings in the abstract, because the article was focused primarily on anti-mutagenic and anti-oxidative effects. It turns out the true source of this information was some other research the author had done but was not in the paper. The doctor had exposed Streptococcus mutans to wasabi extract in a test tube, not in a human mouth. The research was presented at a conference, which means that it had not undergone peer review to determine the legitimacy of its findings, although the author did promise there would be follow-up studies. However, this research was conducted in 2000, and in the nearly 15 years since then, there have been no follow-up studies published. This could mean that no one has followed up on the story, or that the research has been negative. The result is that we don’t really know whether wasabi can protect your oral health. However, it’s not likely to hurt. So brush, floss, make your regular hygiene and cleaning appointments, and feel free to enjoy your sushi. If you need an appointment with a dentist in Spokane or Spokane Valley, please call Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics at 509-581-4188 or 509-927-2273.