Is there anything L-arginine cannot do?

The semi-essential amino acid L-arginine has been used for years as an important part of medical foods; mainly due to its effect on ammonia clearing. It has been also included in intravenous nutrition of pre-term infants since they cannot synthetize it sufficiently. In adult people, L-arginine contributes to vasodilation and as a key stimulant of nitric oxide release affects plethora of physiological functions.

Beyond the general medical care and nutrition, L-arginine is used in tooth pastes intended for tooth sensitivity, because it helps decreasing the formation of dental plaque. Very recently, a research group at University of Michigan (USA) reported that L-arginine also breaks down existing dental plaque, which could further aid in avoiding cavities and oral diseases ( ). The authors hypothesized that L-arginine is able to change how plague cells stick together, by lowering adhesive capacity of bacterial parts of dental plague to stick to tooth surface. Current approaches to dental plaque control are typically based on antimicrobial agents that directly kill plague bacteria, however the side effects of those chemicals has been open to critique for years, due to overuse and unknown long-term toxicity. In that respect, the naturally-occurring amino acid L-arginine may offer a substantially safer approach to the key problems of dental hygiene.