New Mouthwash May Eliminate Tooth Decay

by on September 3rd, 2010
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The UCLA School of Dentistry has posted an article on its website describing the research done by one of its staff, Wenyuan Shi, chair of the oral biology department. Shi has been working on a mouthwash that has been shown to kill all of the harmful bacteria (S. mutans) in the mouth that causes tooth decay, and can keep the mouth free of the bacteria for up to several days. In test trials run recently, all 12 volunteers who tried the mouthwash were found to be completely free of the bacteria four days later, indicating that the mouthwash really works and could soon be sold in stores to the general public.

Before the product can be marketed to the public, however, it must first be tested independently by safety groups to make sure it doesn’t have any adverse side effects. If it passes that stage, tooth decay may just become a thing of the past, saving millions, or even billions of people the hassle and/or pain involved in going to the dentist for cleanings, fillings, root canal, and loss of teeth resulting in implants or dentures.

Shi has been working on the mouthwash, classified as a Specifically Targeted Anti-Microbial Peptide, or STAMP, for over a decade. His research has been partially funded by Colgate- Palmolive and partially by an independent company he created himself, which holds the patents to the mouthwash, which means that Shi could very soon become a very wealthy man.

The paper notes that the human mouth contains all manner of bacteria, some of which are benign or offer beneficial traits such as helping to digest food. Other bacteria are not so good and do little more than cause teeth to rot. The problem up to now has been to figure out how to kill the bad bacteria without killing the good. Current mouthwashes for example simply kill everything, and then only last for up to 12 hours; the new mouthwash by Shi on the other hand only targets and kills S. mutans, which means that all the beneficial bacteria, will be free to do their work.

The university is also quick to point out that if the new mouthwash proves to be free of harmful side effects, the techniques used to create it would likely be applied to other health problems as well, such as helping to target and kill harmful bacteria in the gut responsible for Crohn’s disease or aiding in the treatment of staph infections.

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