A dental researcher has led efforts to develop a mouthwash with technology that kills cavity causing bacteria in the mouth and could save costly trips to the dentist.
For the study, Wenyuan Shi and his colleagues from the University of California, Los Angeles, first had to understand how the Streptococcus mutans interacts in biofilms, or the sticky colonies of microorganisms that build up as plaque on the teeth, Discovery News reported.
Bacteria often latch on to the surfaces of teeth, breaking down food debris and nutrients into acids that can eat away at enamel and form cavities.
These harmful plaque build-ups can lead to gum disease and even tooth loss.
The technology, called "Specifically-Targeted Antimicrobial Peptides" (STAMPs), targets cavity-causing bacteria without interfering with other microbes in the mouth.
This differs from most antibiotics that kill unwanted bacteria and do away with the good kind as well.
However, after being exposed to Shi's technology, the good bacteria develop a type of protection that prevents bad bacteria from forming near them in the future.
In a small clinical trial of 12 participants, using the mouthwash once over a four-day period helped lower levels of S. mutans bacteria, lactic acid and demineralization.
It's not clear how much the mouthwash would cost if approved for use, and more research is needed to test the long-term effects of the rinse.