A single species of bacteria is responsible for tooth decay. But until now, mouthwash has worked by sterilising your maw wholesale. But why go Death Star v. Alderaanon it when you could just kill off that one bad species? This is exactly what Colgate has done and the result could mean an end to cavities — forever.
The bacterial species Streptococcus mutans constitutes just 0.1 per cent of the biomass currently residing in your mouth (fun fact: 100 trillion bacteria live there) but is the primary cause of decay. The rest of the 99.9 per cent are harmless and some even beneficial. To spare these innocuous bacteria death by rinsing, a research team at the Colgate Technology Center in conjunction with the UCLA School of Dentistry have developed a mouthwash that kills only S. mutans and does so with extreme prejudice.
The study, published in the November issue of the Carries Research journal, involved 12 volunteers who rinsed with a solution containing a "specifically targeted anti-microbial peptide". After just a single rinse, the S. mutans was completely wiped out and the patients remained S. mutans-free for the duration of the four-day study. the rest of the bacteria were left unscathed.
Obviously, more than a 12-person test is going to be needed to obtain FDA approval. Which is why follow up studies ar already scheduled for as early as March. If it does win FDA approval, this mouthwash could be bigger than flouride — you'd never have to brush.
"With this new antimicrobial technology, we have the prospect of actually wiping out tooth decay in our lifetime," Dr Wenyuan Shi, chair of UCLA's oral biology section, said in a written statement. [Karger via CBS News via DVice]