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Will dental visits to remove caries be superfluous in the future?
Most people don't like going to the dentist. One reason is certainly the fear of treating tooth decayed teeth. Such treatment is usually not very pleasant, in some cases it can even be extremely painful. Researchers from China are now working on the development of a vaccine that supports human dental health and could permanently prevent tooth decay.
Scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIOV) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences are currently working on a vaccine that can maintain tooth health and even protect against tooth decay. The doctors published the current interim results of their study in the scientific journal "Scientific Reports".
Doctors are developing vaccine against the caries bacterium Streptococcus mutans
Toothache is a major burden for those affected. If the problems with the teeth then require treatment by a dentist, this can again be an extremely painful and uncomfortable experience. For this reason too, it would be extremely helpful if a simple vaccination would protect against tooth decay and other problems. The experts from China are currently trying to develop a vaccine against the caries bacterium Streptococcus mutans. For this purpose, the researchers used a fusion of various proteins that are effective against the Streptococcus mutans pathogen. This bacterium is largely responsible for the development of caries, the scientists explain.
What is tooth decay?
We understand caries as a general destruction of the substance of the tooth, which triggers the so-called breakdown products of bacteria in the mouth. There are all kinds of circumstances that promote the development of caries, such as the formation of dental plaque and caries-promoting bacteria. Sugar and certain carbohydrates in foods such as chips, white bread and pasta can also promote acid formation by caries bacteria.
A combination of proteins can prevent tooth decay
The researchers had previously tried to develop effective protection against caries. To do this, they combined certain proteins from the Streptococcus mutans bacterium with proteins from the Escherichia coli bacterium. With this combination, tooth decay was actually successfully prevented, but there were not insignificant side effects. For example, inflammation in the mouth occurred, the researchers explain.
How did the vaccination work in experiments on mice?
In their current investigation, the scientists revised the active ingredient so that it works just as effectively without causing the unpleasant side effects. The new vaccine was then tested on mice in a laboratory. The animals ingested the substance in the experiment through their nasal cavity, the experts say. The results were clear and gave hope for a successful vaccination against tooth decay. If the mice had not previously suffered from caries, the development of caries could be prevented in 64.2 percent of the cases. If the teeth of the animals had previously developed caries, a therapeutic effect could be found in 53.9 percent, the doctors add.
Most people have to have caries treated several times during their life
Even if the so-called dental health in the western world has improved massively in recent years, it is still a problem that should not be underestimated. Around 60 to 90 percent of school-age children have problems with their teeth, the experts assume. But not only children are affected by tooth decay and other dental problems, adults also often suffer from toothache. Most adults have to go to a dentist several times during their lives to undergo treatment for tooth decay, the experts report.
Vaccine will never replace thorough oral care
The frequency with which most people have to see a dentist in the course of their life suggests that a vaccine against tooth decay would certainly be sold rapidly. Many people around the world would benefit from such a vaccine, the researchers explain. The vaccine could prevent many problems, especially for people in developing countries and remote areas, because otherwise adequate dental care cannot be guaranteed. This undersupply could be at least partially compensated for by a caries vaccine. But it will probably take a long time before that happens. The newly developed vaccine must first be tested in various clinical studies, the scientists explain. And even if the vaccine is on the market, vaccination will never replace thorough and conscientious oral care. (as)