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Knowledge Update

Probiotics may help fight tooth cavities

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New York, March 11 (IANS) A team of US researchers has identified a new bacteria that may keep bad bacteria in check and can help prevent oral cavities using probiotics.

According to researchers, the findings could lead to the development of a supplement that patients could take orally to prevent cavities.

"A12" bacteria has a potent ability to battle a particularly harmful kind of streptococcal bacteria, which metabolises sugar into lactic acid, contributing to acidic conditions in the mouth that form cavities. 

The researchers found that A12 not only helps neutralise acid by metabolising arginine in the mouth, it also often kills Streptococcus mutans.

“To maintain a healthy mouth, the oral environment must have a relatively neutral chemical make-up, or a neutral pH. When the environment in the mouth becomes more acidic, dental cavities or other disorders can develop,” said Robert Burne from the University of Florida's college of dentistry.

"At that point, bacteria on the teeth make acid and acid dissolves the teeth. It's straightforward chemistry," Burne added in the paper published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

For the study, researchers collected plaque samples, isolating more than 2,000 bacteria and then screened them to find bacteria that fit the bill.

Dental plaque is a mass of bacteria that grows on the surface of teeth and can contribute to the formation of cavities.

The results showed that out of these, "A12" stood out for having all of the properties in a bacteria strain that could prevent cavities in a probiotic application.

The researchers have sequenced the entire genome of A12 and plan to turn this discovery into a tool to screen for people who are at a higher risk for developing oral cavities.​