MAR 11, 2016 10:01 AM PST

Open wide! Bacteria to keep you cavity-free

WRITTEN BY: Kerry Evans
Hate going to the dentist? There’s a bacterium for that.

University of Florida Researchers identified a new strain of bacteria that may fight off cavity-causing species.

First of all, what causes cavities? According to study author Robert Burne, “bacteria on the teeth make acid and acid dissolves the teeth. It’s straightforward chemistry. We got interested in what activities keep the pH elevated”.
 
Beneficial bacteria may prevent cavities.

The group identified a new strain of Streptococcus - named A12 - that breaks down arginine to ammonia, thus increasing the pH in the mouth. Even better, A12 also inhibits the growth of Streptococcus mutans, a species responsible for tooth decay.

“A12 interferes with Streptococcus mutans' ability to carry out its normal processes that it needs to cause disease … If you grow them together, Streptococcus mutans does not grow very well or make biofilms, also known as dental plaque, properly”, says Burne.

What’s the next step? The researchers think A12 could be used as a probiotic to lower the risk of cavities. According to Burne, “what if a probiotic formulation could be developed from natural beneficial bacteria from humans who had a very high capacity to break down arginine? You would implant this probiotic in a healthy child or adult who might be at risk for developing cavities. However many times you have to do that -- once in a lifetime or once a week, the idea is that you could prevent a decline in oral health by populating the patient with natural beneficial organisms.”
 

Source: Science Daily, MicrobeWiki
About the Author
  • Kerry received a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
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