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Tooth protection from the sea

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A team of dentists and scientists from Newcastle University are developing a new product from a marine microbe to protect dentures, teeth and gums from bacteria in the mouth.

They are using an enzyme isolated from a marine bacterium Bacillus licheniformis found on the surface of seaweed which they were originally researching for the purpose of cleaning the hulls of ships.

But presenting at the Society for Applied Microbiology Summer conference today, they’ll explain how they are beginning to realise its potential in a host of medical environments – including teeth cleaning.

While toothpastes are fairly effective there are still hard to reach areas leaving the bacteria in plaque able to erode the enamel of teeth leading to fillings. Dr Nicholas Jakubovics of Newcastle University’s School of Dental Sciences believes better products can be made using the enzyme which will offer longer and more effective protection.

“Plaque on your teeth is made up of bacteria which join together to colonise an area in a bid to push out any potential competitors,” explained Dr Jakubovics. “Traditional toothpastes work by scrubbing off the plaque containing the bacteria – but that’s not always effective - which is why people who religiously clean their teeth can still develop cavities.
 
 

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