Humans have invented all kinds of high-tech fixes to deal with plaque in the heart, but when it comes to battling tooth decay, a manual scrubbing with a bristle-brush is still our primary line of defense. But Dutch researchers may have just bested the toothbrush by characterizing and deciphering the structure of the enzyme responsible for plaque sticking to teeth. By adding an inhibitor to toothpaste or even to the food we eat, tooth decay and cavities could soon become a rarity.
Glucansucrase, the enzyme that allows bacteria to convert sugars into long, glue-like sugar chains and stick themselves to our teeth, is a close evolutionary cousin to amylase enzymes found in our saliva. And because we need amylase to break down starches, its previously been impossible to exterminate the glucansucrase in our mouths because doing so would also neutralize our amylase.
So researchers at the University of Groningen used protein crystallography to figure out the 3-D structure of glucansucrase, successfully crystallizing it for the first time. In doing so, they defined the folding mechanism of the protein, a unique function that turned out to be far different than researchers had previously imagined. Being unique, they now think it should be possible to create inhibitors that target the folding structure directly, meaning they could "turn off" glucansucrase without affecting the necessary function of amylase in our digestive tracts.
So while the toothbrush might not be going anywhere, toothpaste laced with inhibitors could do more than just scrub plaque away – it could sabotage the very means by which plaque attaches itself to enamel. Inhibitors could even be worked into sugary foods and sweets to keep plaque from forming in the first place. That's science you can savor, especially if you have a sweet tooth.
Wow. If it's proven effective and safe for humans the days of routine dentistry are numbered. Now for the really important question: Where Can I Buy Stock?!
I'd love that in my toothpaste, but I'd be a bit skeptical about adding it to my food. I mean, I'm doubt it would do harm, but I'd rather control the doses, if that makes sense.
Either way, considering they just discovered the protein folding, commercialization is still at least 5 years out. Still cool though.
Sign me up... No amount of brushing, floss or mouthwash (yes, after every meal) has been able to keep me from cavity central. I hope this works as the title suggests.
Yes this could get rid of plaque, however, I think that we would still have to brush daily to get rid of bad breath X:
This will create one problem though. It will be harder to identify the Brits in the crowd.
Just what I need!
wow, how much will that cost? hundreds, thousands?
This is great. but PLEASE don't stop brushing your teeth. I with hundreds of kids EVERY day. I can not tell you how many of the have bad breath from not flossing and brushing their teeth. cavities are ONLY half the reason we brush our teeth. I REALLY REALLY don't want to smell the rotting chicken you ate 3 three days ago that is still in your teeth.
@YAZ "I'd love that in my toothpaste, but I'd be a bit skeptical about adding it to my food."
I hope your joking. do you have ANY idea how many chemicals are in your drinking water and the food you eat. what about Soy? it is added to just about 100% of all food you eat that you don't buy and prepare fresh yourself (chicken breasts, fresh veggies). The way soy is made in the west (as opposed to Asia) it is basically poison. I believe the main ingredient in fast food hamburgs is surprise surprise. SOY!!! you want to control the dose of something that will stop your teeth from rotting. well how much soy are you eating? how many calories do you eat a day. milli grams of Vitam A which can be bad for you if you get too much. do you have ANY idea of the amount of Anything you ingest.
There was one more research long before about a vaccine for tooth decay in which a genetically modified bacteria would be introduced into the mouth, which eats sugar but do not produce the acids which decay the tooth.these bacterias will dominate the normal ones and eradicate them from the mouth..thus removing the root cause for life...
i felt happy at that time and was hopping to get that vaccine in the future..but this is also cool as long as it solves the problem...
why, mr. Anderson, why, why do you persist?
Because I Choose To...
Whatever happened to the genetically modified bacteria that was designed to prevent tooth decay?? I think the idea was that it didn't produce any acid as a byproduct so it didn't eat away at your teeth.
www nytimes com/2004/11/30/health/30tooth.html
oops guess I didn't read all the feedback before I posted. We were thinking the same thing....
I prefer the Farscape method. shoving special maggots into your mouth that clean your teeth.
I am a 43 year old with advanced localised periodontitus and have returned today from my outpatient appointment at The Eastman Dental Hospital, University College London. I have produced excessively high levels of plaque since puberty and have relatively low levels of tooth decay despite the periodontitus. During an O level biology class I learned that I had really high levels of amylase in my saliva. When I suggested a link between my amylase levels and rate of plaque production , the staff didn't appear that impressed. Upon my return I googled amylase and plaque and was very pleased to find this article. Keep going guys, I don't want my kids to have this problem which has affected me and my father's family. I amn no scientist but it seems so logical,