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Scientists say seaweed could help fight tooth decay

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According to research carried out by scientists at Newcastle University, microbes found on seaweed could provide a vital weapon in the fight against dental decay; an enzyme from the marine bacterium Bacillus licheniformis has various medical applications and was originally discovered when the team were studying cleaning methods for ships hulls.

Dr Nicholas Jakubovics of the University’s School of Dental Sciences has suggested that the enzyme could be used with several treatments to combat decay, saying that toothpaste is not always effective with plaque and this means that even people who look after their teeth well can still develop cavities. He added that the research ‘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.’

Leader of the study, Professor Burgess, was amazed by the efficiency of the enzyme as it broke down the plaque and removed the bacteria, whilst also preventing the build-up to begin with. ‘If we can contain it within a toothpaste, we would be creating a product which could prevent tooth decay,’ he says, adding that ‘this is just one of the uses we are developing for the enzyme as it has huge potential such as in helping clean medical implants such as artificial hips and speech valves, which also suffer from bio film infection [as teeth do].’

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