How to Prevent Tooth Decay without Changing the Oral Microflora?

The oral microbiome has a role in initiating tooth decay but it is not necessary to kill these bacteria to prevent tooth decay. What most people don’t know is that bacteria in the oral cavity start taking an action right after a dentist scrapes the enamel or plaque from the teeth.

Without stopping sugary and high carb foods, there is no way that bacteria would not build a biofilm and start to corrode the enamel eventually causing cavities. That’s why children are advised not to eat candies, gummies, and other sweet things for saving them from cavities.

But researchers have now come up with a new way which can put an end to all this. This new treatment can prevent plaque formation and risk of cavities development at the start. It uses a unique cerium nanoparticle formula which is directly applied to the teeth by a certified dentist.

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This research project will be presented in the Virtual Meeting & Expo under the American Chemical Society (ACS) for Fall 2020.

The human mouth is a house to more than 700 types of bacteria which is called the oral microbiome, says Russell Pesavento who is the lead investigator in this project. He also says that some of these bacteria are beneficial which aid in digestion and metabolization.

In addition to this, the oral microbe also contains some bacterial species which are harmful to health, for example, Streptococcus mutans. Once the dentist clears the teeth, these bacterial strains adhere to the freshly clean teeth and start to replicate.

They use sugar as their building material and rely on it to grow. Once a thick film forms, it is almost impossible to remove all these bacteria from the mouth by brushing. The metabolization of sugar leaves acidic byproducts behind which damage the tooth enamel and develops cavities.

Dentists recommend using products that have fluoride in them. This fluoride helps to inhibit plaque as well as silver nitrate to prevent tooth decay. The researchers have also come across nanoparticles that are made out of zinc oxide, silver, and some time copper oxide too. These nanoparticles can reportedly treat all types of dental problems.

But a repeated usage of these products can cause stained teeth and developing bacterial resistance says Pesavento, from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also highlights that these agents work in general and may also kill some beneficial bacteria in the oral cavity.

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That’s why researchers are working to find a better alternative than doesn’t target the beneficial bacteria but still prevents tooth decay.

Pesavento and his colleagues have come up with a new type of nanoparticles made with cerium oxide. They evaluated the effects of cerium oxide on oral microflora checking if it kills beneficial bacteria or not.  Although they have only considered some clinically important bacterial strains but these nanoparticles have shown much better results than previous types of nanoparticles.

This new type of treatment is significant as it is less damaging for the overall bacterial load in the oral cavity. The nanoparticles only stop the bacteria to adhere to the teeth and create biofilms. So the beneficial bacteria are unharmed in this type of treatment.

Areeba Hussain

The author is a fulltime medical and healthcare writer. She graduated in Medical Microbiology and Immunology with distinction. Her areas of prime interest are medicine, medical technology, disease awareness, and research analysis. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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