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Dealing with cavities could one day be as simple as taking a supplement to keep unwanted bacteria in check, according to findings published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
In 2011-2012, dental cavities, or caries, affected 91% of adults aged 20-64 years in the US, exacerbated by consumption of sugary foods and drink, lack of oral hygiene and not paying regular visits to the dentist.
For the mouth to stay healthy, pH levels must be neutral. Too much acid can cause dental cavities or other disorders.
Acid in the mouth causes bacteria on the teeth to create more acid, and acid dissolves the teeth.
Researchers at the University of Florida (UF) College of Dentistry, led by Robert Burne, PhD, and Marcelle Nascimento, PhD, wanted to know what causes high pH.
Their search revealed a new strain of bacteria that could keep bad bacteria under control, and pave the way to using probiotics to prevent cavities.
Keeping a balanced pH in the mouth Previous research by the same authors has found that two main compounds are broken down into ammonia, and this helps to neutralize acid in the mouth.
The two compounds are urea, which everyone secretes in the mouth, and arginine, an amino acid. The researchers already knew that people who had few or no cavities were better at breaking down arginine than those with cavities.
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