Biofilm method inexpensive way to test new tooth decay treatments

dental biofilm
Photo: kasto 123rf

A Canadian dentistry research team has proved the usefulness of a method of simulating tooth decay that can allow researchers to test new treatment options without a large expense.

The research team from the University of Saskatchewan (USask) used a human saliva-based dental biofilm to simulate the formation of dental plaque and cavities. A dental biofilm is a community of microbes that is grown to mimic the bacterial environment of the mouth. 

The biofilm was exposed to sugar solutions that created a breakdown of the film, similar to the breakdown of tooth enamel seen when a cavity forms. 

The researchers then used the application of fluoride to test how well the biofilm was able to respond to the preventive treatments typically used in dental clinics to combat tooth decay. 

The work—published in the Journal of Microbiological Methods—aimed to prove that the use of biofilms could adequately simulate tooth decay and behave similarly to human teeth when treated with fluoride. 

The study validated that the biofilm method can allow for the accurate testing of new treatments without a hefty price tag for dental researchers, as expensive potential treatments can be tested in small amounts. 

“We anticipate this model is going to be used a lot around the globe by the research community in the dentistry field, as it is the only validated model that would allow the assessment of novel and expensive drugs intended to prevent or treat dental cavities,” Dr Walter Siqueira said. 

“Since the validation of the model, it has been used in our lab to assess the potential use of salivary proteins bioengineered by us to prevent or treat tooth decay.”

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