A very common dental problem today is tooth decay, also known as cavities or caries, which is caused by acid-producing oral bacteria like Streptoccoccus mutans. The standard treatment for a cavity is to fill the tooth with fillings after removing the decayed material by drilling. But researchers have now made an interesting observation, so much so that fighting cavities could one day be as easy as taking a pill.
The University of Florida Health researchers have identified a new strain of Streptococcus, which they refer to as A12, with the potent ability to battle the harmful Streptococcus mutans.
A12 not only helps neutralise acid by metabolising arginine, an amino acid, in the mouth, it also often kills Streptococcus mutans, say the researchers. Previous studies have found that both adults and children with few or no cavities were better at breaking down arginine than people with cavities.
The researchers also found that when A12 and Streptococcus mutans are grown together, Streptococcus mutans does not grow very well or make biofilms, also known as dental plaque, properly. As you may know, the dental plaque leads to tooth decay (cavity).
The researchers are optimistic that their findings could lead to the development of a supplement that patients could take orally to prevent cavities. Now, is that not a good enough reason to smile?