Seaweed toothpaste could fight tooth decay

Caitlin McCormack
Shine OnJuly 6, 2012

You might only think of seaweed as something that holds your sushi together, but new research is showing that these sea greens could be a secret weapon in the fight against tooth decay.

As the BBC online reports, researchers a Newcastle University had been testing whether Bacillus licheniformis, an enzyme from microbes found on seaweed, could be used to clean the hulls of ships when a light bulb went off.

Could these same enzymes get into those hard to reach places between teeth where plaque bacteria thrive, and clean there too?

Lab tests suggest this is exactly what happens when the enzymes are added to toothpaste and mouthwash.

"Plaque on your teeth is made up of bacteria which join together to colonize an area in a bid to push out any potential competitors," Dr. Nicholas Jakubovics of Newcastle University's School of Dental Sciences was quoted in The Independent as saying.

"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.

[See also: Secrets for a whiter smile]

"Work in a test tube has shown that this enzyme can cut through the plaque or layer of bacteria and we want to harness this power into a paste, mouthwash or denture cleaning solution."

Jakubovics believes the treatment could strip away the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay, not remove plaque entirely. A quality oral hygiene regimen would still be necessary.

"Ultimately we hope to harness this power into a paste, mouthwash or denture-cleaning solution," he tells the BBC.

Further studies are needed to test the reliability and of any possible seaweed toothpaste or mouthwash before they'll become available for sale to consumers.

Would you use a seaweed toothpaste or mouthwash to help keep your teeth clean?

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