Coming Soon! An Anti-cavity Pill to Fight Off Dental Cavities

dentalHave you ever wondered, if fighting oral cavities could be as simple as popping a pill! Probably, this idea would transform into reality very soon as scientists in the United States have identified a beneficial strain of bacteria in the mouth that can kill the cavity-causing bacteria and thus keep dental cavities at bay.

The seemingly beneficial bacteria discovered by the University of Florida scientists is a strain of streptococcus called A12.

According to the UF researchers, the A12 bacteria has the potential to fight off a particularly harmful kind of streptococcal bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. This bacteria metabolise sugar into lactic acid, which leads to acidic conditions in the mouth that form dental cavities.

The researchers found that A12 not only helps neutralize acid by breaking down arginine in the mouth, it also often kills streptococcal bacteria that contributes to cavity formation.

“To maintain a healthy mouth, the oral environment must have a relatively neutral chemical make-up, or a neutral pH. When the environment in the mouth becomes more acidic, dental cavities or other disorders can develop,” said Robert Burne, Ph.D., associate dean for research and chair of the UF College of Dentistry’s department of oral biology.

“At that point, bacteria on the teeth make acid and acid dissolves the teeth. It’s straightforward chemistry,” Burne added. “We got interested in what activities keep the pH elevated.”

For the study, Burne and co-researcher Marcelle Nascimento, D.D.S., Ph.D., an associate professor in the UF College of Dentistry’s department of restorative dental sciences, collected plaque samples. They isolated more than 2,000 bacteria that grows on the surface of teeth and then screened them to find that specific bacteria which is better at breaking down arginine and killing cavity-causing bacteria.

The screening showed that out of the mass number of bacteria, only “A12” bacteria found to possess all of the properties needed to prevent cavities in a probiotic application.

“Out of these, A12 stood out for having all of the properties we were looking for in a bacteria strain that could prevent cavities in a probiotic application,” Nascimento said.

“We may be able to use this as a risk assessment tool,” he said. “If we get to the point where we can confirm that people who have more of this healthy type of bacteria in the mouth are at lower risk of cavities, compared to those who don’t carry the beneficial bacteria and may be at high risk, this could be one of the factors that you measure for cavities risk.”

Now the researcher duo intend to conduct more extensive study with larger sample of people in order to find out if there are other bacteria with similar properties that grow in the human mouth.

The study findings published recently in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.