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Microbes for Fighting Tooth Decay? What do Researchers Say?
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Bacteria living on teeth convert sugar into lactic acid which erodes enamel & causes decay. Florida-based company on biopharma has engineered a new bacterial strain called smart that can’t produce lactic acid. But it releases ankills the natural decay causing strain.

In a bid to fight tooth decay, researchers have come up with new weapon in the form of a bacterium that produces an enzyme which inhibits the formation of plaque.

There are as many as 500 different species of bacteria that inhabit our mouth and can colonize on your teeth and gums. When we have a meal, these bacteria forms layers called biotims on the teeth which helps to convert sugars sugars like sucrose, fructose and glucose.left on your teeth and gums to acids. This process leads to production of lactic acid which breaks down tooth enamel and leads to cavities. Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus are found to be the most cariogenic (promotes tooth decay) of these bacteria.

There are other beneficial bacteria like Streptococcus salivarius that is found on the tongue and soft tissues of the mouth and it is known to fight the biofilms built up by Streptococcus mutans.

A researcher in this study, accomplished the task of turning cavity causing bacteria into cavity fighting bacteria by stripping the bacterium of its ability to produce lactic acid. It is this byproduct of the breakdown of sugar by Streptococcus mutans that causes tooth decay. If the bacteria are not able to produce lactic acid tooth decay is stopped.

The genetically altered strain of Streptococcus mutans appeared to thrive on sugar. Researchers found that the strain was able to stay on the surface of the teeth indefinitely and prevented the natural strain from colonizing on the teeth. The altered strain is genetically stable and no ill effects have been noted.

Dentists will only need to swab smart now in clinical trials onto tooth once to keep them healthy for a lifetime. The bacteria convert the glucose, fructose & sucrose into lactic acid through a glycolytic process.

Other researchers in Tokyo discovered that an off-the-shelf FruA acquired from fungus Aspergillus niger also has the similar qualities despite the fact that it has a different amino acid sequence to the one found in the mouth. They used chromatography technique to isolate proteins from S. salivarius and these are used in to find out what was responsible for its cavity fighting powers. Cultures were prepared and mixed with S. mutans cells. The culture with protein FruA had the smallest biofilm and this was evidence that it was the most powerful biofilm blocker.

According to a report in Applied and Environmental Microbiology the researchers found that when there is increased sucrose concentration in the mixtures containing S. salivarius FruA and S. mutans their ability to prevent biofilm formation is decreased.


Another research in UK suggests that using microbes to fight against microbes or more precisely an enzyme from bacteria found on the surface of seaweed. Lab tests have shown that the enzyme is effective in fighting plaque.

An enzyme isolated from Bacillus licheniformis was identified during a screening for compounds that could disperse microbes from the surfaces of ship hulls. When under threat, these bacteria create a slimy protective biofilm barrier of extracellular DNA that joins them together while also sticking to a solid surface. This sticky matrix offers the microbes some protection from brushing, chemical washes or even antibiotics.
These researchers discovered that the enzyme could break down the external DNA, weakening and breaking up the biofilm layer so that the bacteria could no longer find a foot-hold and so get evicted. Initial experiments in the lab have shown promise in demonstrating that the enzyme has the ability to cut through plaque but more tests are scheduled to prove the discovery is both effective and safe.

The components of these discoveries may be used as ingredients in a paste, mouthwash or denture cleaning product. Although it could take a few years before anything appears on the shelves of local pharmacies the scientists say that these could also be useful for keeping certain medical implants clean. But researchers warn that this does not mean that you can get rid of your tooth brush. Brushing and other forms of dental hygiene would still be recommended to prevent plaque build-up.
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Microbes for Fighting Tooth Decay? What do Researchers Say?00