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Anti-plaque bacteria: Coming soon to your toothpaste?

scope_happy_tooth.jpg

A just-published study in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology by Japanese researchers has identified a bacterial species S. Salivarus, found on your tongue and the gums, that fights the build-up of plaque on your teeth.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of microbial species thrive in the hot, moist conditions of that uber-cavity we know as the human mouth, as previously documented by the Stanford's own David Relman, MD, over a decade ago. It's one teeming ecosystem in there.

Some commentators are foaming at the mouth in anticipation of an anti-plaque bacterial toothpaste containing the active principle of the goodly bug: an enzyme called FruA that breaks down the complex-carbohydrate film formed on teeth by the bad bug S. mutans. But others caution that finding just the right formulation that will keep FruA functional while it whiles away its weeks on a supermarket or drugstore shelf is going to take long enough to try our dental patience.

So I have an idea: How about just running your tongue over your teeth from time to time? That's something you can do today, it feels good, it's cheap, and I just tried it and nothing bad happened.

Via ScienceNOW
Photo by D.C.Atty

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