Researchers in the Netherlands have uncovered the structure and function of the enzyme that causes dental plaque to stick to your teeth. This knowledge should make it easy to identify or develop substances that could inhibit the enzyme. Imagine adding those substances to toothpaste or even sweets and cavities could be a thing of the past.
The enzyme, for all of you trivia buffs out there, is glucansucrase. Bacteria in your mouth use the glucansucrase enzyme to convert sugar from food into long, sticky sugar chains and then the bacteria use this glue to stick themselves to your teeth. Once they are clinging to your teeth, the bacteria ferment sugars, releasing acids that dissolve the calcium in teeth. Fail to brush and floss these little critters off your teeth and bingo – you’ve got a cavity!
Don’t expect to kiss your toothbrush goodbye, however. It will always be necessary to clean your mouth. Just because bacteria may no longer stick to your teeth doesn’t mean they won’t be coating the rest of your mouth and gums. Keep brushing!