No toothbrush as cavity-causing bacteria soon made to kill itself

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Washington, Jan 8 (UNI) Want to get rid of brushing your teeth every morning? Scientists have found an easy way out.

Bacteria that eat sugar and release cavity-causing acid onto teeth may soon be made more vulnerable to their own acid, resulting in self-destruction, research showed.

Scientists have identified key genes and proteins that, when interfered with, can take away the ability of a key bacterial species to thrive as its acidic waste builds up in the mouth, Science Daily reported today.

The ability of Streptococcus mutans (S mutans) to survive in acid is one reason that the species is the main driver of tooth decay worldwide, the study said.

Past research has shown that this ability has several components including a bacterial enzyme called fatty acid biosynthase M (FabM), which when shut down, makes S mutans almost precisely 10,000 times more vulnerable to acid damage.

In addition, early work suggested that FabM or one of its relatives might also help all Streptococci (strep) and Staphylococci (staph) infections to resist the human body's defences, which include immune cells that subject bacteria to acid.

''Our first goal is to force the major bacterium behind tooth decay to destroy itself with its own acid as soon as it eats sugar,'' said Robert G Quivey, PhD, professor of Microbiology&Immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

''After that, this line of work could help lead to new anti-bacterial combination therapies for many infections that have become resistant to antibiotics,'' he added.

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