Here in San Diego, we love our sushi, and one of the favorite condiments to go along with it is that spicy green root of the horseradish family, wasabi. It would be nice to believe that eating this tasty food would be good for our teeth, but, although some may tell you that it is, there’s very little evidence to support the claim.
The Good News about Wasabi
This whole idea comes from the antibacterial properties of wasabi, which is likely how it came to be a condiment associated with raw fish. which is probably part of the reason why it became such a commonly-used condiment with raw fish.
Because oral bacteria are the primary cause of tooth decay, cause tooth infections that require root canals, and trigger gum disease, it makes sense to think that maybe wasabi could improve oral health.
Wasabi to Disappoint
The bad news is that there’s really no research to support such a claim. As with anything on the internet, claims about wasabi’s oral health benefits should be regarded with skepticism. Articles sometimes claim that supporting research was published in Biofactors, but this isn’t the case. Read the abstract yourself: this article is focused primarily on antimutagenic and antioxidative effects.
This research was done by the same author, but wasn’t published in this paper, or any other paper. It was presented at a conference, which means it hadn’t undergone peer review–rigorous scrutiny by other researchers to ensure the legitimacy of its findings. It’s also worth noting that the researcher just exposed Streptococcus mutans to wasabi extract in a test tube. It’s likely to be more effective in this circumstance because the bacteria is more fully exposed without its protective plaque.
In the phone interview, the researcher promised he was going to follow-up on his findings, but it’s nearly 15 years later, and we haven’t seen any new studies published. This could mean that subsequent studies showed wasabi had no impact on oral health. Or it could mean that no one’s bothered to check.
We don’t know if wasabi will help your oral health, but we do know that brushing, flossing, and, of course, regular dental visits do. If you are looking for a San Diego dentist, please call 619-727-6633 for an appointment at Strober Dental.