Thinking Tech

Breakthrough molecule makes your teeth 'cavity-proof'

Breakthrough molecule makes your teeth 'cavity-proof'

Posting in Technology

'Keep 32' can be added to products like candy or gum to wipe out bacteria that causes tooth decay.

How do you like the idea of chewing gum that can make your teeth cavity-proof?

It's not only possible, but it could very well be available within a couple of years thanks to the discovery of a molecule that kills bacteria that causes tooth decay. Instead of brushing, "Keep 32" can be added to products like candy, gum and almost anything really. Just make sure its kept in your mouth for at least a minute for the anti-bacterial agent to clean house and keep those pearly whites sanitized for hours.

The research, which began in 2005, was conducted by José Córdoba of Yale University and Erich Astudillo of the Universidad de Santiago in Chile. The pair is preparing for human trials to test efficacy in real-world use and to ensure such a product can be used safely. Once successfully completed, they plan to license the patent to an established player in the dental care field such as Colgate or Proctor and Gamble. Ultimately, the hope is to get such products into the market in 14 to 18 months, according to Gizmodo.

One issue that might complicate matters is that the molecule might technically be classified as an anti-biotic. Unlike fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste, works to eliminate Streptococcus Mutans, the bacteria known to use sugar to produce acids that erode tooth enamel. Fluoride fights cavities by preventing the acid from dissolving, or demineralizing the hard and shiny substance that protects the teeth. And since anti-biotics are administered carefully and in a controlled manner to prevent bacteria from developing anti-biotic resistance, the researchers will likely need to demonstrate how Keep 32 can be used widely without consequence.

This is one potential boom-or-bust breakthrough to keep an eye on.

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure