What better way to start the New Year than with a piece of very promising news on the dental health front? Dental caries, the process that ends in tooth decay, is one of the most common and expensive of America’s infectious diseases. More than 50% of children and an even larger majority of adults are impacted by dental caries. The majority of the $70+ billion American’s spend on dental services each year goes toward the treatment of woes rooted in dental caries.
The November 2011 edition of the international dental journal Caries Research reports on a small scale clinical study conducted by the UCLA School of Dentistry in which a newly developed mouthwash demonstrated noteworthy success in specifically targeting and killing the Streptococcus mutans species of bacteria that primarily are responsible for tooth decay. Subjects within the study rinsed one time only with the experimental rinse and experienced a nearly complete elimination of oral Streptococcus mutans bacteria over the course of the entire four-day study period.
This potentially revolutionary rinse is the product of nearly ten years of research conducted by Wenyuan Shi, chair of the oral biology department at the UCLA School of Dentistry. Shi in fact has developed an entirely new antimicrobial technology called ‘STAMP’, Specifically Targeted Anti-Microbial Peptides.
The human body is home to a myriad of species of bacteria, most of which perform vital services in maintaining optimum health. Traditional broad-spectrum antimicrobial agents kill without regard both harmful and helpful microorganisms and typically remain effective for twelve hours or less. Shi’s STAMP products are designed to serve as a ‘smart bomb’ that specifically targets harmful bacteria while leaving other strains alive and well. In addition these products remain active for periods significantly longer than traditional antibiotic dosages.
While the UCLA study was very limited, the results were noteworthy. Indeed a New Investigational Drug application was been filed and more extensive clinical trials are likely to begin in March of this year. If UCLA’s rinse ultimately is approved for general use it would be the first anti-dental caries drug since fluoride was licensed nearly six decades ago.
“With this new antimicrobial technology,” said Shi, “we have the prospect of actually wiping out tooth decay in our lifetime.” Wow! That really is potentially game changing news within the dental health arena. I’m excited to watch this research and this potential unfold.
Dr. Davis is especially good with kids. And his staff? Helpful, compassionate, and caring. They take care of business for you. Thumbs up. 10 on a scale of 5.