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Dealing with cavities by taking a pill

By Tim Sandle     Mar 11, 2016 in Science
A new study suggests that a newly found bacterium could help address cavity formation, by keeping harmful bacteria at bay. The bacterium could be processed and be made available in pill form, as a type of oral probiotic.
Tooth decay and the formation of cavities is formed by bacteria in the mouth processing certain substrates, like carbohydrates from sugar foods. This happens as the mouth environment moves from neutral to acidic. A by-product of this is plaque, and a build-up over a long-period of time leads to tooth decay (caries). Caries is the most common disease in the developed world.
Good teeth hygiene tends to be addressed through regular brushing with a fluoride-based toothpaste, the use of mouthwash, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist. What is there was something else?
On discovering a new form of bacterium, University of Florida scientists have looked at how this organism could be added to the natural microbial flora of the mouth with the intention of out-competing and out-growing the types of bacteria associated with tooth decay.
The harmful acid produced by bacteria that leads to a rotting to the teeth is countered, to an extent, by chemicals designed to neutralize the mouth environment. These chemicals come from urea, which everyone secretes in the mouth, and arginine, an amino acid produced by certain ‘beneficial’ bacteria. This is where the new organism comes in.
The organism is a previously unknown strain of Streptococcus, which currently unnamed and given the code A12. The A12 strain appears adept at battling against and blocking a teeth-harming organism called Streptococcus mutans. The A12 doesn’t kill the aggressive organism but creates conditions that limits its production of acid.
The success of the A12 strain against other bacteria has been proven in laboratory experiments. Based on this, the research group are considering if a pill-based probiotic, containing the A12 strain, can be fashioned. This is possible with the A12 genome having been sequenced.
The research is published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, in a paper titled “Characterization of a highly arginolytic Streptococcus species that potently antagonizes Streptococcus mutans.”
More about dental hygiene, Probiotics, Teeth, Pills, Bacteria
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