1. A bacterial disease | 2. What is s. mutans? | 3. Evidence s. mutans Causes Cavities | 4. How s mutans causes cavities | 5. Flouride | 6. Growing on your toothbrush | 7. My S Mutans Test Results | 8. Mouth wash | 9. Hiding inside your teeth | 10. Acid reflux | 11. Killer toothpaste | 12. Vaccine | 13. Tobacco? | 14. Status of CaroRx | 15. Status of Cavity Innoculation | 16. (re)Population Problem | 17. Salivary Flow | 18. Remineralization: Teeth Do Heal! | 19. Stop the Acid! | 20. Regrowing Teeth | 21. Recaldent | 22. Xylotol | 23. X-Rays (Radiographs) | 24. Dental Cleanings | 25. Poking Around | 26. Changing Your Mouth Bacteria | 27. The Solution | 28. Giving up Sugar Results | 29. Things You Should Do | 30. References
A Bacterial Disease
Dental cavities are primarily the result of a communicable disease spread through the transmission of bacteria!
"I have been working in dentistry for 27 years and I have no idea what you are talking about." - dental receptionist when asked if her office will test for S. mutans.
One certain cause of cavities is the bacteria named mutans streptococci. 10 According to the dental school at UCLA, if the percentage of S. mutans in plaque is in the range 2-10%, a person's risk for cavities is high. If S. mutans can be reduced to 0.1% cavity risk is low. 1
What is s mutans?
S. mutans is actually a group of seven closely related bacteria. 2 According to another source, S. mutans comprises thousands of different strains. 19Photo from tokushima-u.ac.jp
Evidence that s. mutans Causes Cavities
The evidence includes:
1. A significant correlation between S. mutans counts in saliva and plaque and the incidence of caries.
2. The correlation of S. mutans counts and the progression of tooth decay.
3. S. mutans can be isolated from the tooth surface before initiation of a cavity.
4. Infection of experimental animals with S. mutans produces high incidence of caries.
5. Immunization of experimental animals with S. mutans significantly reduces the incidence of caries. (What?! You can immunize animals against cavities? Why not humans? Read on.)
6. S. mutans produces copious amounts of extracellular polysaccharide, a key component of plaque.
7. S. mutans metabolism of sucrose rapidly produces an organic acid which demineralizes tooth enamel. 2, 25, 26 (Acid production occurs about 5 minutes after you eat sugar.)
How S. Mutans (and company) Cause Cavities
The fuzzy feeling felt on poorly brushed teeth is an accumulation of bacteria. 6 There are many species of bacteria in your mouth (and throughout your digestive system ) at all times. Some are helpful and even essential to our health. We now know that some types of bacteria in your mouth form plaque and cause cavities.
The S. mutans bacteria is facultative, that is, it can live with or without oxygen. 8 When the cells at the bottom of the plaque run out of oxygen, they switch from aerobic respiration to the fermentation of fructose, producing lactic acid 7 which eventually breaks down teeth and causes cavities.
The S. mutans, gordonii, and salivarius bacteria all ferment sugars to get energy for reproduction. S. mutans breaks sucrose (a sugar) into glucose and fructose, and ferments fructose for energy. S. gordonii ferments both sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. S. salivarius can ferment glucose, sucrose, and usually lactose.
Glucose is polymerized (joined into large molecules) into an extracellular (outside the bacteria) dextran capsule 3 (protective layer) which cements the bacteria to the tooth enamel. The capsule is 300 to 500 cells thick and is the matrix of dental plaque. 4
Shortly after you brush, a pellicle (thin protein film from saliva) forms on your teeth and the sticky dextran capsule of S. mutans sticks to this. Other microorganisms colonize the accumulations of dextran. Dental plaque forms primarily from S. mutans and filamentous Actinomyces. Lactic acid from carbohydrate (sugar) fermentation destroys tooth enamel at the site of the plaque. 3
Fluoride fights cavities in part by decreasing demineralization and increases remineralization. ("Re-who?" See below.) The element fluorine, the most chemically reactive of the halogens, will bind almost any other element to form a fluoride. ("ide" on the end of the word means there is an ionic compound of two elements. So, there are different fluorides depending on what other element binds with fluorine.) Think of fluorine as super sticky dust that grabs everything nearby. It helps glue minerals into your teeth and to keep them there. So far, so good!
Fluorine's reactive property also causes it to inhibit the function of some enzymes (like enolase) essential to bacteria's ability to produce acid. Acid from bacteria causes loss of minerals from the tooth and eventually a hole or cavity, so stopping the acid production sounds nice as well...until you realize that humans have enzymes too.
"There is plenty of evidence to indicate that fluorine in the amount of 1 ppm or slightly more interferes with enzyme systems and these enzyme systems are involved in the growth of bones, in the functioning of nerve tissue and so forth..." (Dr. Robert S. Harris, (Ph.D.), Director of Nutritional Biochemistry Laboratories, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.) - fluoridedebate.com
I had frequent treatments as a kid. I still recall eating fluoride pills. Am I now being overly cautious by avoiding fluoride? Perhaps I am jeapordizing the health of my teeth, but based on my research my personal choice has been to avoid fluoride for years due to claims of weakened bones 11, a lowered IQ 12, cancer 13, thyroid dysfunction 14, anemia 15, liver disease 16, heart disease 17, and others. In any case, fluoride or not, it seems most reasonable to focus on the cause of the cavities, the microscopic tooth eating beasties themselves.
Bacteria Are GROWING on Your Tooth Brush! Nuke 'em!
A clean mouth is very important because germs that cause disesase enter your bloodstream through tears in your gums. USA Today reported that your toothbrush may be the most serious threat to your everyday health.
A study used an electron microscope to view the bacteria on toothbrushes. Those rinsed with sterile tap water saw bacterial growth, but those dipped in 0.12% chlorhexidine gluconate; or 1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) had no growth. 21 Obviously, STEP 1 in getting rid of cavities should be to kill the gook on your toothbrush. Chlorhexidine gluconate may only be available a dentist's perscription. Better yet, the Purebrush Antibacterial Toothbrush Sanitizer uses ultraviolet light to kill bacteria as well as viruses and yeasts. 22 It is currently on sale for $69.95 after tax. It ships in 3-5 business days. I used this device for serveral months before going to the University of California, San Francisco Dental School for S. mutans tests, but still had the bacteria. Another more expensive device is the toothbrush steamer at germterminator.com. I haven't tried it and I'm waiting for an answer to the question: does it kill s. mutans?
My S. Mutans Test Results
Dr. White from UCSF wrote on June 18, 2002 that my s. mutans level was "high", and lactobacillus low.
"S mutans 97,000 CFU High
Lactobacillus 310 CFU Low"
CFU = colony forming units. A japanese article showed that I was actually in the Low area according to the scale for that test. (Did my UV toothbrush holder help?) I finally had time to write for clarification 4 months later. "Is that 97,000 CFU per ml saliva?" Yes. On 10-2-02 Dr. White wrote "Your goal is to get to 10,000 CFU per ml of saliva Strep mutans to decrease your bacterial challange!"
|Colony forming units (CFU) S. mutans/ml saliva
||100,000 <CFU/ml <1,000,000
High or low, I was obviously not killing all the s mutans the bacteria in my mouth, even if I was killing them on my toothbrush.
What About Mouthwash?
One dentist I asked said it "kills germs" but said it didn't reduce cavities. This did not make sense to me. If by "germs" they mean s. mutans, then cavities should be reduced by the use of mouthwash, right? According to one study: Rinsing with 20 ml of Listerine Antiseptic for 30 seconds twice per day for 11 days produced respective reductions of 69.9% and 75.4% in total recoverable streptococci and in S. mutans in plaque, and corresponding reductions of 50.8% and 39.2% in saliva. 23 The answer is: Yes, use it. The active incredients are called essential oils and they include Thymol 0.064%, Eucalypol 0.092%, Methyl Salicylate 0.060% and Menthol 0.042%. However, I used it daily and I still had high counts. Here's one good reason:
Bacteria are Inside Teeth, Hiding from Mouthwash
The dentists I consulted said bacteria that cause cavities are INSIDE teeth, under the surface. Mouthwash can't reach them. Interesting. Another said that bacteria can not be inside the teeth in the microtubules, otherwise they would infect the root.
1. Are s. mutans bacteria smaller than the active ingredients in mouthwash? 2. As they get into your teeth, do the bacteria leave behind any kind of barrier to keep the mouthwash out? 4. After brushing, are there "gopher holes" in your teeth in which plaque plugs the holes and bacteria are still inside, hiding from the mouthwash? 5. If so, how does one dissolve the plugs and get to the hiding bacteria? 6. Would any form of radiation be harmless to you but deadly to s. mutans? 7. If you don't eat sweets for a long time, will the s. mutans starve to death? 8. How long can s. mutans survive without sugar or starch?
For various reasons, for example, hiatal hernia, some people suffer from stomach acid rising during the night. According to Dr. White at UCSF, acid reflux "diminishes protective factors" but has a different pattern of demineralization than caries (cavities caused by bacteria). A clinical exam at UCSF by Dr. White can determine if stomach acid is the cause of cavities.
Now that we know the goal is to kill the bacteria that cause cavities, why not use a toothpaste that has anti-microbial agents? Human saliva contains anti-microbial proteins and peptides such as lactoferrin, lactoperoxidase and lysozyme. Lactoferrin is an iron binding glycoprotein; a natural component of many body fluids such as tears, blood, milk and saliva. It is an important part of your defense system against invading microorganisms because of its wide anti-microbial properties. The question is, does it kill s. mutans? At pure-milk-calcium.com I found a toothpaste with lactoferrin selling for about $5 per tube plus $5 shipping. The site is run by an independent rep who sells for a company in Quebec Canada, but there is no problem with US sales. The toothpaste was originally created by an oral surgeon. On 5-24-02 I ordered a few tubes and sent a request for any studies relating to lactoferrin's action on s. mutans, lactobacillus, and actinomyces viscosus. The salesman has only been using the toothpaste for 3 months. The salesman had said his son's stomache problems went away when he started using the toothpaste. My experience was the opposite. I tried this, but stopped when I got a stomache ache after using it.
Tooth Decay Vaccine?
"British scientists say they've developed a vaccine to prevent tooth decay by eliminating bacteria from the mouth, according to reports from CNN. The American Dental Association's (ADA) Division of Science believes that the initial research results appear promising in the ongoing fight against tooth decay. The ADA looks forward to additional long-term studies that validate the results as reported. The new vaccine is a plant-based substance that is painted on teeth and allegedly produces antibodies that prevent harmful bacteria (streptococcus mutans) from sticking to teeth and causing cavities.
The vaccine was developed by California-based Planet Biotechnology and tested at Guy's Hospital in London, CNN reports. The tasteless, colorless vaccine was tested on people during a four-month trial. Volunteers received the vaccine twice a week for three weeks for a total of six applications. According to the researchers, a mouth rinse was first used to reduce the levels of bacteria in the volunteers to zero.
Then they applied a control, or placebo solution to some patients and the vaccine to others. Within two months, the bacteria returned to the mouths of the control group while those who received the vaccine were reportedly protected for up to four months. Dr. Julian Ma and Professor Tom Lehner led the team of researchers at Guys Hospital dental school where the testing took place. The scientific trials are reported in the May issue of Nature Medicine. ADA scientists are looking forward to examining and validating the results from this as well as larger clinical trials.
The ADA science staff adds that a variety of research endeavors have been underway to explore the possibility of developing a caries vaccine for more than 20 years. The Association is hopeful that a safe, effective vaccine can be developed for the public. The company is hoping to have the vaccine available for consumers in 2001 or 2002, according to news reports." 11 | 12 | 14
Okay, here it is 2002. Is this thing available yet? Interestingly, we find out that the plant in question is ... tobacco. "Cavity fighter: Planet Biotechnology, a California firm, is growing antibodies in tobacco plants that could be used to fight tooth decay if used in toothpastes or mouthwashes." ["Tobacco an ideal subject for genetic research," Gail Gibson, Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, 2/27/2000]" 13 What about the cancer risks? Nearly all of the stories avoid mentioning tobacco.
"The vaccine, SIgA plantibodies, is a plant-derived substance that is painted on the teeth. Once on the teeth, the vaccine is said to produce antibodies (germ fighters) against the cavity causing bacteria called Streptococcus mutans. The vaccine was tested on people in a four-month study." 15
The substance is derived from the tobacco plant, but does the stuff you paint on your teeth have any other substances from the tobacco plant?
Planet Biotechnology Inc. was founded by Dr James W. Larrick who also founded several other California based biopharmaceutical companies: Panorama Research Inc., Horizon Biotechnology Inc., Lipoxys Inc., Panolife Products Inc., PanResearch Inc., and Quality Clinical Labs Inc. 16 Busy guy! If you are a scientist and you want some inspiration take a look at Dr. Larrick's CV. Impressive!
A little poking around shows that Planet Biotechnology Inc is located at 2462 Wyandotte St. in Mountain View, California. 17 | 18 Elliott L. Fineman is the Chief Executive Officer. 24 | 25 They call their product CaroRx(tm)
"CaroRx(TM): An anti- S. mutans SigA CaroRx(TM) is a clinically advanced SIgA plantibody that protects humans from dental caries (Larrick et al. 1998). In a preliminary study of CaroRxTM, anti-S. mutans antibodies were orally administered to 84 human subjects. Upon the application of SA I/II, monoclonal antibodies prevented the colonization of artificially and naturally implanted S. mutans (Larrick et al. 1998). In addition, protection from recolonization (with just 3 weeks of application) lasted for two years." 19
Status of CaroRx
"Planet Biotechnology Inc. has submitted an IND (investigational new drug application) to the US FDA and phase I/II confirmatory clinical trials have begun at the School of Dentistry at the University of California in San Francisco." 20 I know some people in the School of Dentistry at UCSF so I wrote to ask about participating in a clinical trial.
RESULT: According to a Dean at UCSF the study was completed a year ago (2001) and you would have no cavities (?) to participate in the study in the first place.
UPDATE 2/5/02: According to the Chair of the Division of Clinical General Dentistry in the Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences the product does not have FDA approval or clearance to market. An abstract was published in the Journal of Dental Research March 2001 by Dr. Jane Weintraub. One may also contact "Plant Biotechnologies in Palo Alto" for more information. (I assume he intended to say Planet Biotechnology Inc. in Mountain View. This company has a phone (650) 969-4570 but it seems no one is home.)
Status of Cavity Innoculation
The latest word I have on this is from the University of California, San Francisco Dental School's Dr. White on 5/23/02. ( I remember conversations well and I wrote down what I remembered right after I left. ) When I asked about a cavity vaccine he said something very close to this: "We haven't had any luck in doing so because everybody repopulates. The best therapy we have is, what you're going to get." What I'm getting is a high dose of fluoride and chlorhexidine. Dr. White agreed to email me the results of my saliva's bacterial counts and fluoride concentration tests before I start "the program." On 12/17/02 I finally go the fluoride results from the Dr.'s busy assistant. Fluoride 34 (Med 0.03-0.08 ppm). I asked if this means .03 to .08 ppm of fluoride per ml of saliva, but as of 1/7/02 I've had no reply.
The (re)Population Problem
What are they repopulating from? Is it just all over in food?
"Yes, ah, they usually from kissing their spouse, trading toothbrushes, like that and from the oral pharinx. Can't sterilize. So its an ecological experiment. It's ecology, not eradication. Can't eradicate it."
Well immunization means the production of antibodies, right?
"Right. We did anti-body experiements and it didn't work any better. We're still not there yet. In the future, may be, but we're not there yet."
So it does work in animals, but only because you can isolate the animal from getting repopulated?
Dr White: "Correct. Yup. Not humans unfortunately. "
If it did work, would a caries vaccine cause a loss of millions of dollars for dentists everywhere who fill cavities? I didn't ask this question.
Good salivary flow is an important part of preventing cavities. This is one big reason dentists recommend sugarless gum. According to Dr. White: "When I look at your salivary function, you've got normal wet saliva and you were able to spit 3 ml in less than 5 minutes so that's not an issue." The reason saliva is important is that teeth are not solid. They are a protein matrix, a structure with calcium and other minerals filling the holes. Acid takes away these minerals (demineralization) and eventually breaks down the matrix itself, causing cavities. Saliva delivers calcium and other minerals to be deposited in the matrix (remineralization) and rebuilds your teeth!
Remineralization: Teeth Do Heal!
As long as you remove the infection and stress, bones heal. In fact, after a bone heals it is much stronger than the original. Do teeth heal? Yes. A cavity is a hole in your tooth's enamel, the hardest and most mineralized substance in your body. Minerals such as calcium are constantly entering and leaving your teeth. Before a hole forms, there is a constant battle between de-mineralization and re-mineralization. Saliva is supersaturated with calcium as well as phosphate at pH 7 and it deposits minerals in the porous enamel areas demineralized by acids. This process is known as remineralization.
Remineralization is a dynamic balance:
calcium hydroxyapatite (teeth) + acid <> calcium phosphate and water
According to my (former) dentist, once the protein matrix has failed, a hole in a tooth will not fill in. This statement is confusing to me because there isn't much protein matrix in adult tooth enamel. During the formation of enamel, nearly all of the protein matrix (mostly amelogenin proteins) is removed before final mineralization when teeth form. "More than 98 percent of tooth enamel consists of carbonated calcium hydroxy-apatite," according to CCMB research professor A.G. Fincham. "Essentially, your teeth are made of rock." 20 What are the real limits of remineralization? How much enamel can be destroyed and still regrow?
I gave up sugar drinks on 1/24/02, the day I was diagnosed with 10 cavities and the day started this article. I had an ugly cavity on a crooked front tooth. I could clearly see the hole. I could feel the hole with my fingernail. In fact, my dentist poked a metal poker into the cavity causing me to ask about the spread of bacteria. On 5/30/02, 5 months later, there was still discoloration under the tooth, but the hole seemed to be sealing. I still decided to have it filled for cosmetic reasons. My dentist commented that it had not gotten any worse since she last looked at it 5 months ago.
One thing is certain, filling cavities does nothing to reduce the bacteria that cause cavities.
Stop the Acid!
Acid in saliva will cause minerals in teeth to dissolve out into your saliva. Adding alkali will cause minerals to deposit into and onto teeth. You can neutralize acids formed in plaque using baking soda, but timing is essential. Neutralize or dilute plaque acids within 10 minutes of eating and for at least 20 minutes afterwards. "As a buffer, Baking Soda tends to cause acid solutions to become more basic and to cause basic solutions to become more acid, bringing both solutions to a stable pH around 8.1 (slightly basic) on the pH scale." 31
Mix 1 tsp of baking soda in a half glass of water and swoosh and rinse with it. This will alkalize your mouth. Avoid baking soda toothpastes that contain peroxides which can irritate and damage gum tissue and can be dangerous.
One team is working on synthesizing tooth enamel. Ameloblasts are spherical cels about 1/500th the size of a red blood cell (18 to 20 nanometers in diameter) which in embryonic tooth buds secrete amelogenin proteins. Amelogenins self-assemble and form an extracellular matrix within which inorganic crystals of mineral form.
Calcium is an element that can be bound to other atoms to make different compounds. To get calcium in a form you can use, try Trident gum with ReCaldent. At one point during my consultation, Dr. White of UCSF Dental School said, "We can't do much about the protein and calcium phosphates in your saliva, but we can increase the fluoride in your saliva." When asked if the ReCaldent helps, Dr. White said, "Yeah, there's Xylotol right there" on the paper with different risk factors and protective factors he gave me. Xylotol is just a non sugar sweetener, all it does is give you something sweet that bacteria can't eat. The Dr's answer about Xylotol does not address the question about ReCaldent. According to its makers, ReCaldent adds calcium to your saliva, thereby increasing remineralization.
Are there any risks of Xylotol? More than 60 grams per day can be hazardous for diabetics. According to one site, diabetics should be careful. Large amounts of xylitol cause the liver to "convert the excess to glucose, simple sugar, and if enough insulin is not produced to handle the increase in glucose, high blood sugar and the associated risk factors are imminent." 21
I found an interesting comment on one page that said X-rays show only cavities that are one to two years old. The most modern method may be the use of high-intensity light to measure loss of calcium or phosphate from a tooth.
Here you can see a radiograph of one of my own cavities from Sept 20, 2001. In the picture, all the very white on top are previous fillings. The black indentation underneeth the white point is where the bacteria have eaten into my tooth. Reading x-rays is difficult but this example is pretty easy to see. A larger x-ray of the whole area is below. (How many web pages give you an actual x-ray of the webmaster's teeth? Only here baby.) Before you actually have a cavity, you can see where the minerals of the tooth have started to disappear. These areas can be remineralized with enhanced salivary flow. In fact, about 60% of caries extending just into the dentin have not "cavitated" (broken through showing a hole) on the surface. 22
The year before I had my diagnosis of 10 cavities, I had stepped up my dental cleanings to once every 3 months. The situation in my case got much worse with the regular cleanings. According to DR. ROBERT O. NARA, D.D.S. speaking at Total Health '87, every time you have your teeth cleaned, you lose about 2 to 3 microns of your enamel. "Even in dental professional literature, they state that there is probably some damage to the root surfaces when they scrape with these scalers." 24 In other words, one wonders if the cleaning process drums up extra business for dentists by weakening teeth and eventually allowing more cavities. What seems to be the cure, is actually the cause? On 10/1/02, I called my dentist to cancel all future cleanings unless they can provide me with some science to show they are useful. On 5/30/03, I had a reply, but not the kind I expected!
Click to read my dental service rejection letter:
According to this Boston Globe article, "in actuality, there's so little evidence on the right interval for cleaning that the authors of a 1994 study in the Journal of Dental Education concluded it may be time to call all clinical dogma regarding treatment of adult periodontitis into question." My dentist feels it is "important to develop a sound program of routine dental care" (cleanings). But what about all the people we know who never go to the dentist and who never get cavities? Is it important for them too? Or just for people at risk for cavities? Could it be that some "sound" dental programs actually spread s. mutans and weaken the protective coating on your teeth? Could my dentist find no research to support the efficacy of dental cleanings in reducing cavities? Perhaps it was much easier to get rid of a trouble patient than to face the possibility that the supposed cure was actually part of the cause. My dentist did confess frustration at an inability to get a handle on my caries problem. ( At the time I was drinking lemonade for dinner every night, sweetened juice for breakfast, and soda for lunch. )
Now that we know bacteria is the cause of cavities, have you ever wondered why dentists take a pointy metal object and poke INTO the cavity in your tooth? Are they purposefully or accidentally pushing the bacteria deeper into your tooth?! According to Dr. White, "Nyah. Nyah. They go pretty deep just on their very own. They're pretty small and they're fine at migrating." (Nyah? Is that a hybrid of no and yeah? Hmm.)
Know Your Enemy: Streptococcus mutans
Scientists can get s mutans for experiments. It is shipped freeze-dried and grown on Trypticase soy agar with 5% defibrinated sheep blood.
The genus Streptococcus (derived from the Greek streptos, twisted: kokkos, a bunch of grapes) is a genus of non-motile ( they don't move on their own ), non-spore forming, aerobic to facultatively anaerobic bacteria. The genus is comprised of Gram-positive, microaerophilic cocci (round), which occur in chains or pairs. - fda.gov, siu.edu, ucsd.edu. S. mutans LOVES carbohydrates (darn, so do I) -- so much that it stores its own carbohydrates in its cells for time when you don't feed it carbohydrates and when it becomes "buried" in plaque and is unable to easily get them from your diet. How long can it live if you starve it? Unfortunately, almost all bacteria can become dormant when starved, start to grow again very quickly once nutrients are available. Again, what is its life cycle?
According to the dentalcomfortzone antibiotics can cause dangerous allergic reactions as well as produce resistance strains of bacteria. Some research according to the site states that more people "got sick and died from taking the antibiotics prior to dental treatment" than were helped by taking antibiotics to avoid heart disease (subacute bacterial endocarditis) caused by bacteria from teeth. Streptococcal infections with most strains still sensitive to penicillin and erythromycin - niu.edu but this doesn't seem worth the risk.
Cavity Vaccine Patents
Take a look at US Patent US04150116, titled Immunization against dental caries with glucosyltransferase antigens. This is from April 17, 1979. How about US05352446, or this US04324782 which says you can eat s. mutans and gain cavity immunity. Were any of these ever tested in clinical trials?
Kissing and Cavities
I almost choked when I read that Heidi K. Hausauer, DDS, FAGD (510) 538-3334 spokesperson from the The Academy of General Dentistry recommends kissing to prevent cavities "because it stimulates saliva production, which helps reduce the incidence of decay." There is no mention in the article of bacteria or the fact that caries is a transmissible disesase.
"The mission of the Academy of General Dentistry is to serve the needs and represent the interests of general dentists, to promote the oral health of the public, and to foster continued proficiency of general dentists through quality continuing dental education in order to better serve the public."
They say it right there don't they? Oral health is secondary. The first part of the mission is to represent the dentists. Does that mean drumming up more business by causing the spread of cavity causing bacteria? It seems so. A similar story was run by CNN, February 14, 1999. The statment about kissing reducing cavities is at odds with this fact: "The bacteria that cause cavities may be transmissible through saliva, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association."
Mothers can transmit the cavity causing bacteria by kissing their babies mouths. One "study chose first-time mothers who had high counts of S. mutans in their saliva. Half of these mothers underwent specific programs to significantly reduce the amount of S. mutans in their saliva. Out of the 28 mothers which were successfully treated, only three of their children (at three years old) were infected with S. mutans. As both groups of children got older, the number of infected children increased, but the number of infected children from the successfully treated mothers was significantly less than those of the untreated mothers (Kohler et al., "Preventive measures in mothers influence the establishment of the bacterium Streptococcus mutans in their infants," Archives of Oral Biology 28 (3), 1983, pp. 225-232).
Kissing between spouses passes the bacteria back and forth, but people should know that if you don't have cavities, you can get them from kissing someone who does. Then again, perhaps if you have cavities you can change your mouth's bacteria by kissing someone who doesn't ...
Changing Your Mouth Bacteria
We all know people who never get cavities. We've also heard that kissing can help prevent cavities. Why might this be? Dr. White at UCLA told me that dental cavities are a complex problem dealing with the bacterial ecology.
Here is one idea that might turn out to be the key: There is competition between the cariogenic bacterium, Streptococcus mutans, and the non cavity causing Streptococcus sanguis. 18 "The higher the initial population, the easier it became predominant, or the harder it was eliminated from the mixed population." Adding S. sanguis to your mouth is not the answer, in fact, it could kill you. S. sanguis binds to oral surfaces and allows other bacteria to attach. "Furthermore, S. sanguis has been long recognized as a leading cause of bacterial endocarditis, a disease of high morbidity which is fatal if untreated." Is there some other "good bacteria" that people with no cavities have?
It seems so ... "S. mutans comprises thousands of different strains, some more harmful than others, which partly explains why some people have more, or more severe, cavities than others." 19 The solution may be to target individual strains.
The (Sugar) Solution
To have cavities, you need BOTH sugar and bacteria. Animals that are kept in a sterile environment will NOT develop caries if they are fed sugar. - nevada.edu I can't get rid of the beasties, so I gave up refined sugar (including soda drinks and fruit drinks) on 1/24/2002 when I was diagnosed with 10 cavities. I had a few weeks of full body cravings and withdrawal symptoms for three weeks, but after that, I actually lost my taste for the stuff. I do eat fresh fruit. The natural sugars mostly stay in the cells of fruit as you eat it so your teeth get less. I'm still gettting sucrose and starch every day from my food, possibly enough to keep the s. mutans alive. I did have two cavities filled because they were on my front teeth. I had some sensitivity and visible discoloration on two teeth other teeth, but the sensitivity went away. (Footnote: I read that Mr. Bush also gave up sugar in March 2003. )
Giving Up Sugar Results
On 1/20/2004, two years after I was diagnosed with 10 cavities and gave up sugar, I had a full set of x-rays for all teeth.
GOOD NEWS: No new cavities in the two years! That's huge because I had out of control cavities two years ago. I did this using non-fluoride toothpaste and without the chemical chlorhexidine.
BAD NEWS: The cavities I had two years ago are still there, but none of them has progressed much. I'm going to go ahead and get them filled.
I'll update this after my next s. mutans test to see how reducing sugar has changed my bacterial count.
Things You Should Do
Here is a growing list of all the things that may help your teeth. 1. Floss every day. 2. Sterilize your toothbrush frequently. (Steam, UV, etc. See above. ) 3. Get a tongue cleaner and scrape your tongue each time your brush. 4. Drink enough water. 5. Eat onions (raw are best) since they contain powerful antibacterial sulfur compounds and in a 1997 test tube study killed S. mutans. Then use parsley or mint leaves for your breath. 6. Drink Green tea (Camellia sinensis) which contains substances called catechins that kill mouth bacteria. 7. Get enough vitamin C. Kiwis have more than any other fruit. 8. Eat a tablespoon of sesame seeds to clean teeth and add 87 mg of calcium. 9. Eat wasabi since it contains isothiocyanates that inhibit the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. 10. Eat cashew nuts which have anacardic acids that kill bacteria like S. mutans [Himajima & Kubo 1991 p419]. These nuts have antibacterial, antidysenteric, antimicrobial and antiseptic properites. 11. Eat grapes since they contain procyanidins, a type of tannin that inhibits the growth of S. mutans. 12. Eat pure chocolate without sugar, since it contains tannins known to prevent bacteria from attaching to the teeth. 13. Eat Sage honey and Tupelo honey which inhibit oral pathogenic bacteria. 14. Kiss people who never get cavities.
2. http://www.alpharx.com/sm.html (link defunct 11-11-2003. Archived.)
5. hyperdictionary - Dextran is a polysaccharide (chain of simple sugars) composed of glucose (a type of simple sugar) monomers (units of a polymer, such as a polysaccharide), used as a means of storing food by bacteria and yeasts. When dextrans are formed out of sucrose (another type of sugar) by bacteria in the mouth, it makes dental plaque.
8. nyu.edu - "The term 'facultative' is used to describe organisms which can grow in the presence or absence of oxygen - that is, they can generate ATP via respiration if oxygen is present or by fermentation if oxygen is absent or insufficient. Such organisms are usually referred to as 'facultative anaerobes'."
9. ohio-state.edu - Fermentation is defined as an energy releasing process that takes place only under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation is a process where enzymes produced by the bacteria control an anaerobic (non oxygen) breakdown of fructose as an energy source for growth.
10. Also involved are Lactobacillus casei and acidophilus and Actinomyces viscosus and naeslundii but the primary culprit is S. mutans. (also s. gordonii , salivarius and s. sobrinus. 27, 28 )
21. Pediatr Dent 2000 Sep-Oct;22(5):381-4 Microbial contamination of toothbrushes and their decontamination. Nelson Filho P, Macari S, Faria G, Assed S, Ito IY.
22. Caries Risk Assessment and Management in the Dental Office. Draft by W. Stephan Eakle, based on D1 course handout May 2002.
23. J Clin Periodontol 2000 Mar;27(3):157-61 Effect of an essential oil-containing antiseptic mouthrinse on plaque and salivary Streptococcus mutans levels. Fine DH, Furgang D, Barnett ML, Drew C, Steinberg L, Charles CH, Vincent JW
25. Microbiol Rev. 1980 Jun;44(2):331-84. Biology, immunology, and cariogenicity of Streptococcus mutans. Hamada S, Slade HD.
26. Loesche WJ. Role of Streptococcus mutans in human dental decay. Microbiol Rev1986: 50: 352 380.
27. The estimation of more S. mutans in your mouth than S. sobrinus is based on the use of a MS-bacitracin plate, which inhibits S. sobrinus to a greater extent than S. mutans. Therefore, the actual incidence of S. sobrinus may be higher than currently supposed.
28. Tanzer JM & Clive J. Quantitative considerations in microbiological evaluations for caries: risks for type II errors resulting from use of MSB agar. Oral Microbiol Immunol1986: 1: 28 30.