Two scientists have discovered a molecule that kills the bacteria that can cause tooth decay, meaning a treatment for cavity-proof teeth could be on the way.Jose Cordova of Yale University and Erich Astudillo from the University of Chile named the molecule “Keep 32“ – a reference the number of teeth in the human mouth — and now the duo is waiting to begin performing trials on humans.
The molecule targets Streptococcus Mutans, the bacteria that turns sugar into the lactic acid that affects tooth enamel and can lead to decay.
The researchers say the molecule — which could be incorporated into products like mouthwash or candies – could kill bacteria in about 60 seconds.
According to Science Daily, Americans spend about $70 billion on dental care each year. And worldwide, about 73 percent of the world’s population has cavities, according to Chile’s Diario Financiero. The scientists began conducting research in 2005 in order to find a way to reduce that number.
The researchers say they already have a number of parties interested in investing the product or buying the patent, and they hope to have a product on the market in 14 to 18 months, pending proper funding and the results of the trials, Diario Financieroreports.
Although Cordova’s and Astudillo’s discovery has some buzzing, the men weren’t the first to propose targeting Streptococcus Mutans to reduce the possibility of cavity formation.
In 2011, a microbiologist at UCLA’s School of Dentistry developed a mouthwash that almost eliminated the bacteria in all 12 subjects who tested it over a four-day period, according to a UCLA press release issued at the time.