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.

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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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