A New Molecule May Make Cavities A Thing of the Past

If Keep 32 works, dentists may want to consider a new line of work.

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Close-up of a dental X-Ray

Dentists may want to make note of a new molecule called Keep 32. It’s called that because the molecule seems to have the capabilities to help you keep all 32 of your teeth in your mouth and potentially make cavities — and maybe dentists — a thing of the past.

The chemical was designed by scientists in Chile who seemingly have a vendetta against dentists bacteria. In laboratory tests, Keep 32 was able to wipe out all the bacteria that cause cavities in about 60 seconds. The molecule targets the bacteria known as streptococcus mutans, which keeps dentists in business by turning sugar into lactic acid, which in turn erodes tooth enamel. Once the streptococcus mutans is eradicated, mouths stay cavity-proof for several hours.

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The product has been developed and researched for seven years and is now moving into testing on humans. Once Keep 32′s efficacy and safety are proven, it could make its way into the market within 14 to 18 months, according to researchers José Córdoba from Yale University and Erich Astudillo from the University of Chile quoted in the Daily Mail. The Chilean website Diario Financiero Online reports that the pair have a provisional patent on the molecule and are looking for funding for their human trials.

(MORE: Why More Preschoolers Are Going Under the Dentist’s Drill)

If Keep 32 is as successful in testing as it is in the lab, it’s likely that the chemical would be added to toothpaste, mouthwash, and other oral hygiene products, especially if researchers sell their patent to one of the major pharmaceutical companies. However, Astudillo isn’t limiting his product to the dental world. He also hopes to license the chemical to candy companies like Hershey’s or Cadbury. Keep 32 could be added to sticky sweets, meaning that consumers would no longer need to be concerned that a package of saltwater taffy or caramel would cause tooth decay. Parents will have to come up with a different excuse to prevent their children from eating copious amounts of Laffy Taffy.

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26 comments
Dentist Marketing
Dentist Marketing

But it just wipes off bacteria S. mutans in just several hours right? And not completely. We'll have to stay tuned about this one. But dentists shouldn't worry about losing their career cos of this medical breakthrough. This is not the only bacteria that thrives in the mouth, and it still needs regular cleaning.

Allan Yi
Allan Yi

Almost every ailment, especially caries, in dentistry is preventable. The problem isn't that we don't have the necessary methods to combat caries. Rather it is that people neglect to brush, floss or rinse their teeth twice a day. People in low socioeconomic classes tend to have poor diets including sugary drinks and fatty foods. "Keep 32" is going to be placed in toothpastes and people will still have to brush teeth teeth. Taking care of your teeth regularly by itself is prevention enough against caries. There is no need for any wonder drug and the majority of these claimed S. mutan killers are only marketing ploys to sell to Colgate-Palmolive and make big bucks.

Nothing from that TIMES magazine is new or ground-breaking.

Cross Breed
Cross Breed

"...Keep 32 was able to wipe out all the bacteria that cause cavities in about 60 seconds."

Can you say antibiotic? Will it adversely affect one's beneficial bacteria? Diarrhea? Yeast infections? The hastening of a resistant form of streptococcus mutans...? I hope not.

betaray100
betaray100

I hope this mutans mutates into a supermutans that destroys an entire mouth of teeth in 32 seconds.

Albin
Albin

I thought triclosan was supposed to do pretty much the same, and is already in a lot of toothpastes.  Of course, triclosan has its objectors, but likely so will this once released.

valleydentalcare
valleydentalcare

Why do we always look for quickfixes...Must be human nature..

I have had my share of cavities and root canals before becoming a dentist..

Have not had one after proper education in prevention since 18 +yrs..

I only do two things different now..1.Brush after every meal to clean all the food off the teeth (cuttting off food supply on teeth to bacteria)and 2.  avoid sugar foods especially liquids...more info at..

yourvalleydental.com

Sumedha Manabarana
Sumedha Manabarana

Thank you for the timely article, especially your style of writing. I refer to the sentence:

"The chemical was designed by scientists in Chile who seemingly have a vendetta against (dentists) bacteria." with the word 'dentist' struck through!

And I got it!

examplesample
examplesample

This would be great news if cavities were only created in the mouth, but we know that's not true. If your saliva is acidic because your body's pH is imbalanced because you eat too much crap, you can still get cavities because your body will automatically leech calcium and minerals from your teeth when it doesn't get them from your diet. Yep, sorry folks, clean living is the only answer. Sorry to burst anyone's bubble.

freelance7
freelance7

Now if we can work on journalistic hyperbole.  Cavities aren't the only thing dentists work on, and every dental problem isn't caused by a cavity. 

woshicara
woshicara

One would still need dentists for regular cleanings... even if no one ever got cavities, people will still have issues with plaque and gingivitis.

jimmynindy
jimmynindy

If a little bit of something is good then gross quantities must be awesome. Give me a break. Let's first try moderation.

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

The American Dental Association will lobby to prevent its use in the US because testing will never prove adequately (for them) that it is 100% safe.

Dentistry will be saved and Corporate America will applaud.

shepdogsd
shepdogsd

This will only create a "super" S. mutans bacteria.   It will happen fast if this antibiotic is widely used.   The more an antibiotic is "prescribed" the faster the resistant versions of bateria emerge.   

Jason Campbell
Jason Campbell

If we know anything about nature, it is that life will find a way. Reading the article it clearly states that S. mutans is only eliminated for a couple hours, so they aren't completely eliminated. Bacteria are not a static organism, they will adapt. 

Furthermore, S. mutans is  not the only bacteria in the mouth that has a degenerative effect. Promoting this molecule as a panacea seems highly irresponsible. Remember when fluoridation of the water supply was supposed to accomplish the same thing?

hammr25
hammr25

People can already prevent cavities by brushing and flossing every day.  I'm not sure how this will change anything.

TheToothManCometh
TheToothManCometh

@Dentist Marketing

That's fine and good for hygienists, not so sure about dentists...

S. mutans is the major initiator of dental caries. Other bacteria, such as some lactobacilli, contribute to the propagation of the cavity primarily once it has reached the dentin. Without initiation these bacteria would not be able particularly harmful. 

If this drug, or one of the several similar drugs entering clinical trials in the last few years, can suppress S. mutans, the demand for dentists' services would drop significantly. 

Makes medicine and pharmacy look quite a bit better really.  

kato999
kato999

umm,  flouride is already shown to be safe and effective way to prevent caries.  The ADA has been lobbying to flouridate water forever.   If Keep 32 achieves this as well and is safe then the ADA will be fully supportive of it's use.  

To think the ADA wouldn't want to prevent cavities would be like a dermatologist recommending SPF O sunscreen to keep their melanoma biopsy business thriving.  

Oneill
Oneill

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Richard Davis
Richard Davis

It ("the molecule") would 

probably  never have seen the light of day here in the US. Chile must fly under the free-market regulatory radar ;-)

Richard Davis
Richard Davis

Is the "molecule " actually an antibiotic? The article doesn't call it that.

Alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are still very effective at killing any kind of bacteria, including higher evolved bacteria like MRSA.

daengbo
daengbo

If you've ever compared the mouths of people who grew up in areas with fluoridated water to those that didn't, you'd realize how effective it is. I had a dentist in an area which didn't fluoridate flat out tell me that I wasn't from around there the very first time he looked at my mouth.

wethepeople34
wethepeople34

 Thank-you for mentioning the fluoridation of our water supply.  I try to give my conspiracy soapbox a rest on Sundays.

Li Tai Fang
Li Tai Fang

Some people brush twice and floss once a day, and still get cavities. Some people are just prone to cavities. Conditions that make people prone to cavities including dry mouth, etc. 

I know, because I'm one of them. 

AllanYi
AllanYi

@TheToothManCometh Or you know, dentists stop employing hygienists to keep cleaning procedures to themselves. Do dentists not provide cosmetic procedures?

alitan1
alitan1

Yeah and if this new molecule does just as alcohol and H2O2 then it would wipe out all bacteria in your mouth. That would lead to fungal infection of the mouth a.k.a. Oral candidiasis, which is pretty bad.

The selective killing of the S. mutans bacteria makes this drug special and also an antibiotic.

Everyone needs to realize there have been no human testing of this product. If it kills the good bacteria in the intestine, consider this off the market.

alitan1
alitan1

Sorry double post , replied to wrong person.