Researchers at the University of Florida (UF) suggest that preventing cavities could be as simple as taking a pill since they have identified a new strain of bacteria in the mouth that helps fighting bad bacteria. In the U.S. over 19 percent of children ages 2-19 have untreated cavities.

Findings would appear to show that a potential probiotic called A12 has been identified. Researchers explained that maintaining a neutral chemical makeup or a neutral pH is fundamental for having a healthy mouth. By contrast, having an acidic mouth may lead to the development of dental cavities.

According to the last National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 92 percent of adults 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth.

After analyzing what activities cause an elevated level of mouth pH, the team found out that A12 plays a big role in fighting such acidic mouth environments. The latter is great for battling a particularly harmful kind of streptococcal bacteria, called Streptococcus mutants, which metabolizes sugar into lactic acid, creating a cavity-friendly environment.

Scientists seem to suggest that a probiotic formulation could be developed from this natural bacteria located in the mouth of humans, to fight cavities. The idea would be to prevent a decline in oral health by providing people with “natural beneficial organisms”, said Robert Burne, Ph.D., chair of the UF College of Dentistry’s department of oral biology.

“You would implant this probiotic in a healthy child or adult who might be at risk of developing cavities. However many times you have to do that — once in a lifetime or once a week” he added in a press release published by the University of Florida.

The team of researchers has sequenced the genome of A12 in order to create a new pill or an oral drug for people who have higher risks of developing cavities. Marcelle Nascimiento, a Ph.D. associate professor in the UF College of Dentistry’s department of restorative dental scientists, said that it would also be possible to use A12 as a risk assessment tool.

Dental caries in the United States

New investigations will be conducted by the team in order to determine if people who have higher levels of A12 are at lower risk of developing cavities since it is recognized that dental caries are a prevalent issue among certain segments of people in the United States.

17.5 percent of American children of ages 5 to 19 have untreated dental caries, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On the other hand, 27.4% of adults aged 20-44 have untreated cavities.

That being said, the total number of people with dental caries might be considerable, even when percentages have been declining since the 1970s.

Source: University of Florida News