Tooth decay has a lot of awful effects. It causes pain. It causes tooth loss. And it can lead to infections.
It turns out that all these negative effects can be prevented by simply using one dental care trick: making teeth slippery. This is what researchers at the University of Alabama discovered through a new dental care study.
Blocking production of sticky substance produced by bacteria that causes dental caries
What the researchers did was create a molecule that interfered with how the bacteria that causes tooth decay works. This molecule, an inhibitor, blocks an important enzyme in the bacteria, making it ineffective as far as causing tooth decay is concerned.
Normally, the bacteria that causes dental caries (tooth decay) produces a biofilm. It uses this biofilm to stick onto the surface of your teeth. And once comfortably anchored, it then starts eating out your teeth.
This is however not possible when this inhibitor is used. This is because the inhibitor blocks the production of this biofilm. When it does, it denies the bacteria (streptococcus mutans) the ability to stick on teeth.
Without the glue, the bacteria finds the surface of the teeth to be too slippery to hold onto. And since it can’t do that, it’s effectiveness as far as causing tooth decay diminishes. This then preserves the teeth or at least reduces the rate at which the teeth decay.
To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers put mice on a diet that promotes tooth decay. They then introduced the inhibitor. They then noted the rate of decay. When compared to other mice, there was a significant reduction in decay rate in the mice that had taken the inhibitor.
This is good news especially given that according to the 2015 Global Burden of Disease study, over 2.3 billion people in the world suffer from dental caries (tooth decay). Any method of preventing this dental care epidemic is welcome, and this method even more so. This is mainly because of how the inhibitor works.
Specific targeting a superior way of preventing tooth decay
The inhibitor specifically targets the S. mutans bacteria. This targeted nature of the inhibitor means that it can be deployed without having to risk the destruction of other useful bacteria. It makes it a better strategy when compared to common dental care practices like tooth brushing and using mouthwash simply because it does not indiscriminately destroy all the bacteria in the mouth.
Good news for dental care. Bad news for harmful bacteria.