A team of scientists at the University of Florida Health reported that they found a new strain of Streptococcus in the mouth that could fight off bacteria responsible for tooth decay. The discovery could pave the way to probitics-based supplements that could be taken orally to keep the teeth healthy.
The research team explained that the newly found strain could be used in developing a pill that prevents cavities.
A research paper on the findings was published in the January issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Scientists noticed that healthy teeth require a neutral pH in the mouth. If the mouth becomes too acidic, it is created the perfect environment for bacteria and dental cavities to form.
Robert Burne of the UF College of Dentistry’s department of oral biology explained that the bad bacteria on teeth make the environment more acidic, which can literally dissolve the teeth’s outer layers. Burne said that his fellow researchers were interested in the causes of high pH in the mouth.
In a past research, Burne and his steam found that there are at least two compounds that prevent the mouth from becoming to acidic: urea and arginine. The researchers also found that bacteria in the mouth broke down these compounds, so they planned a follow-up study to learn which bacteria played a crucial role in preventing tooth decay. The team noted that people with higher levels of arginine had fewer or even no cavities.
The new study revealed that a new strain of Streptococcus dubbed A12 could be the answer. Researchers envisioned a probiotic approach against tooth decay similar to probiotic formulations used to maintain healthy gut bacteria.
Burne explained that the beneficial microorganism could be implanted in a healthy patient to prevent them from developing cavities later in life. And this could be done with a simple pill.
A12 is good at promoting arginine production and fighting a harmful strain of Streptococcus dubbed Streptococcus mutans. This microorganism can rise acidity in one’s mouth by turning sugar into lactic acid. The research team learned that A12 delivers a one-two punch in battling cavities: it neutralizes an acidic environment by metabolizing arginine, while wiping out Streptococcus mutans in the mouth.
Nevertheless, if A12 fails to eliminate the harmful Streptococcus, it can hamper its ability to cause disease. Past research had shown that the two strains of Streptococcus do not mix very well. When A 12 is present, the Streptococcus mutans can no longer promote dental plaque.
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