Seaweed Found to Stop Tooth Decay

Microbes found on seaweed could provide an unexpected weapon in the fight against tooth decay, scientists have said.

A group of UK scientists are experimenting with enzymes extracted from seaweed microbes that may be able to remove the microbes in dental plaque. Their lab tests suggest the microbe's enzyme cuts through plaque, stripping it of bacteria that cause tooth decay.

They used an enzyme isolated from the marine bacterium Bacillus licheniformis which they were originally researching for cleaning ships’ hulls. Professor Grant Burgess, who led the research, said: “It’s an amazing phenomenon. The enzyme breaks up and removes the bacteria present in plaque and, importantly, it can prevent the build-up of plaque too. 

While toothpastes are effective, there are still hard-to-reach areas between teeth where the bacteria in plaque can erode enamel, causing cavities.

Dr Nicholas Jakubovics of Newcastle University’s School of Dental Sciences believes better products offering more effective treatment can be made using the enzyme.

He said: “Plaque on your teeth is made up of bacteria which join together to colonise an area in a bid to push out any potential competitors.
“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.

“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.”
When threatened, bacteria shield themselves in a slimy protective barrier known as a biofilm.

It is made up of bacteria held together by a web of extra- cellular DNA which binds the bacteria to each other and to a solid surface – in this case in the plaque around the teeth and gums.

The biofilm protects the bacteria from attack by brushing, chemicals or even antibiotics.

But after studying Bacillus licheniformis, which is found on the surface of seaweed, the Newcastle University scientists found that when the bacteria want to move on, they release an enzyme which breaks down the external DNA. That breaks up the biofilm and releases the bacteria from the web.

Professor Grant Burgess, who led the research, said:“When I initially began researching how to break down these layers of bacteria, I was interested in how we could keep the hulls of ships clear, but we soon realised that the mechanism we had discovered had much wider uses.
“If we can contain it within a toothpaste, we would be creating a product which could prevent tooth decay.
“This is just one of the uses we are developing for the enzyme, as it has huge potential such as in helping keep clean medical implants such as artificial hips and speech valves, which also suffer from biofilm infection.”
The team will now look to collaborate with industry to carry out more tests and product development. Stay tuned!

Where to find seaweed toothpaste right now

Currently, there is a tooth product for animals made from seaweed and it has fabulous reviews [here]. But what about for humans? I did find a Russian toothpaste sold on Amazon with silver, sea minerals and kelp. I also found a mouthwash with marine bio-active complex. These are the only one I could find at the present moment. Please let me know if you happen to find another one as I'd like to list it here. It is also a great idea to incorporate seaweed into your diet for teeth health. Kelp, specifically, is loaded with calcium.

Thanks for reading! What do you think?

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