To improve your oral health and prevent cavities, would you consider taking a pill?
You may already take medications to manage or prevent certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, asthma or osteoporosis. And thanks to recent research, you may one day be able to keep cavity-causing bacteria at bay with a simple pill as well.
What does this mean for the future of oral health and dental care? We think it may be exciting news.
Scientists Discover New Bacteria that Wards Off Cavity-Causing Agents
You may be creeped out by the idea of bacteria in your mouth, but not all types are bad. Some strains of bacteria are beneficial to your oral health, which is why we can’t simply eliminate all of it to stop tooth decay. Consequently, scientists have been looking for ways to get rid of the harmful bacteria, while leaving the beneficial strains behind.
Researchers at the University of Florida recently discovered a new strain of mouth bacteria that may keep the cavity-causing types in check. Called A12, this potentially beneficial bacteria is a previously unknown strain of streptococcus. Scientists have mapped out the entire genetic code of A12, hoping to use the strain in the future as a tool for preventing cavities.
How the New Bacteria Strain May Help in Preventing Cavities
For your mouth to stay healthy, the chemical environment must remain relatively neutral. If it becomes too acidic, you may start seeing tooth decay, gum disease and related problems.
Two main compounds help to maintain a neutral chemical environment: urea, which everyone has, and arginine, an amino acid. The researchers determined that in people with few or zero cavities, arginine is more easily broken down. This suggested the presence of a beneficial bacteria helping to keep the mouth’s environment neutral, which the scientists found in A12.
A12 doesn’t just work at preventing cavities by neutralizing acid, though. Researchers found that the strain may also interfere with or even kill Streptococcus mutans, harmful bacteria that contributes to cavity formation and poor oral health.
The beneficial bacteria may have future use as a diagnostic tool, to identify patients who are at the greatest risk of tooth decay. Eventually, it may be possible to use A12 to develop a supplement for preventing cavities and improving overall oral health.
Preventing Cavities and Tooth Decay Today for Better Oral Health Tomorrow
The U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has awarded the University of Florida research team a five-year, $3 million grant to continue their work with the A12 bacteria strain. But results are a long way off, so don’t count on taking an anti-cavity pill anytime soon.
Instead, you’ll have to rely on basic cavity-fighting measures to ensure your ongoing oral health. This includes consistent daily dental hygiene habits and regular examinations from an experienced oral health care professional. Seeing an oral surgeon for advanced problems will help ensure early treatment and the best chance for keeping your teeth and gums healthy for life.
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, with offices in Tooele, West Jordan and Cottonwood, provides advanced care and treatment for the whole family, to ensure and protect your oral health and overall well-being.