American scientists find technique to prevent dental cavities; flossing, cutting down sugar among ways to protect teeth

The mouth contains more than 700 species of bacteria in it, but not all of them are harmful. Some are beneficial bacteria which help in the digestion of food, while others, such as Streptococcus mutans result in cavities.

Myupchar August 19, 2020 16:24:06 IST
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American scientists find technique to prevent dental cavities; flossing, cutting down sugar among ways to protect teeth

Your mouth contains more than 700 species of bacteria in it, but not all of them are harmful. Some are beneficial bacteria which help in the digestion of food, while others, such as Streptococcus mutans result in cavities.

However, dentists have been using various products such as stannous fluoride to prevent plaque accumulation and silver nitrate or silver diamine fluoride to arrest existing cavities.

But repeated use of these products can result in staining of teeth and the bacteria become resistant to these agents. Moreover, these agents kill not only harmful bacteria but also the good ones.

In order to deal with this problem, scientists from the American Chemical Society examined the effectiveness of cerium oxide nanoparticles against the cavity-causing bacteria.

What causes cavities?

The bacteria in our mouth are always in the active state. Soon after you clean your mouth, the bacteria stick to teeth and begin reproducing. The sugar and food stuck between your teeth act as a source of energy and building blocks for these bacteria. With the help of these, the bacteria form a tough biofilm over the teeth which cannot be removed easily by brushing. As the bacteria keep metabolising sugar, they form acidic residues which dissolve the outer layer of enamel, thus allowing cavities to develop.

Cerium oxide nanoparticles prevent cavities without killing good bacteria

Dr Russell Pesavento, the principal investigator of the study, and his fellow researchers prepared the nanoparticles by dissolving ceric ammonium nitrate or sulfate salts in water. Then the researchers grew Streptococcus mutans in two different polystyrene plates and fed them sugar, but one of them had the cerium oxide nanoparticle solution in it.

The results revealed that the plate with cerium oxide nanoparticle solution showed 40 percent less formation of biofilm as compared to the one without the nanoparticle solution.

The scientists further tested another anti-cavity agent, silver nitrate, under similar conditions, but it showed no effect on the growth of the biofilm.

These nanoparticles were better than other anti-cavity agents as they were less harmful to the good oral bacteria. They alsodid not allow the cavity-causing bacteria to stick to the polystyrene plate at all and were less toxic than other agents such as silver nitrate.

Many dentists are looking forward to using these nanoparticles in office settings to prevent cavities even before they start occurring.

Tips to prevent dental cavities 

Certain things can be done to prevent your teeth from getting cavities. Dr Sonia Bhatt, a Dental Surgeon associated with myUpchar, has given the following tips to prevent dental cavities:

1. You should always brush your teeth before going to bed as it removes any food particle that could have gotten stuck between your teeth. You should floss your teeth after brushing to remove any piece of food that brushing missed.

2. Parents can get fluoride application done on their kid’s teeth as the fluoride protects the surface of their teeth from disease-causing bacteria.

3. Use therapeutic mouthwashes such as chlorhexidine mouthwash to keep harmful bacteria at bay. Dilute the mouthwash with water and use it once daily for only 21 days. Do not overuse mouthwash as it can damage your tastebuds and can cause staining of teeth.

4. Adults can get their teeth coated with dental sealants. Dental sealants are thin protective coatings that are painted on the chewing surfaces of the teeth like molars. Studies have shown that it can reduce the risk of cavities on molars by 80 percent.

5. Avoid eating caramel rich candies as they tend to stick to the surface of your teeth for longer.

6. Cut back your consumption of carbonated and sweet drinks as the sugar component from the drink can stay in your mouth even after you finish the drink, thus promoting cavities.

For more information, read our article on Cavities (Dental Caries).

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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