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Pop a pill to ward off cavities
March 29, 2016, 1:21 pm

A new discovery disclosed in a recent report could one day lead to developing a pill to stem tooth cavities. A strain of newly identified bacteria in the mouth may keep cavity-causing bacteria in check says scientists at the University of Florida in the US. The investigators said it might be possible to use the beneficial bacteria to develop a supplement taken by mouth that prevents cavities.

Explaining that a healthy mouth requires a relatively neutral chemical environment, the researchers added that when the environment in the mouth becomes too acidic, it can lead to cavities and other dental problems.

Scientist involved say that bacteria on the teeth make acid, and acid dissolves the teeth. “It is straightforward chemistry and we got interested in what activities keep the pH elevated," they said.

The seemingly beneficial bacteria the researchers discovered is a strain of streptococcus called A12. The researchers also mapped out the entire genetic code of A12, and said they hope to use it as a tool to screen people to see who is at higher risk of developing cavities.

According to study authors, "If we get to the point where we can confirm that people who have more of this healthy type of bacteria in the mouth are at lower risk of cavities, compared to those who don't carry the beneficial bacteria and may be at high risk, this could be one of the factors that you measure for cavities risk."

The research team recently received a five-year, $3 million grant from the US National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to study A12 and related bacteria in the mouth.

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