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Chile creates cavity killer

A new molecule has been created by researchers in Chile that could make teeth 'cavity proof', killing the bacteria known to cause caries in less than 60 seconds.

Named 'Keep 32' after the number of teeth in the mouth, researchers Jose Cordova and Erich Astudillo hope the product could be used in toothpastes, mouthwashes, floss and even food. Chemical trials have shown that the cavity-causing bacteria Streptococcus mutans can be eliminated for hours with the molecule.

Procter & Gamble and five other chemical giants are fighting for the patent to Keep 32, with the hope that successful human trials could see products using the molecule on the market in just over a year. If Keep 32 is classed as an antibiotic then proof of limited health consequences would be required before it could be used in a variety of processes.

Despite the interest in the molecule, some argue that oral disease prevention should focus on balancing the bacterial biofilms already in the mouth rather than targeting and removing specific 'harmful' bacteria. A recent review from Philip Marsh published in the British Dental Journal1 stressed the importance of the relationship between humans and their natural microflora and the risk of dental disease associated with an imbalance of resident bacteria. Marsh pointed out that 'it is too simplistic to talk of the presence of “good” or “bad” bacteria'.


  1. Marsh P D . Contemporary perspective on plaque control. Br Dent J 2012; 212: 601–606.

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Pacey, L. Chile creates cavity killer. Br Dent J 213, 202 (2012).

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