A12 Bacterium Fighting Against Decay

What is Α12 bacterium and what are it's magical abilities?How does it fight against decay?

What is Α12 bacterium and what are its magical abilities? How does it fight against decay?

What’s the best way to keep teeth healthy? The answer is simple. Regular brushing and flossing along with a diet low in sugary sweets and drinks. But the mouth also works to protect itself. In fact, some bacteria can halt or limit the tooth erosion that leads to decay, a new study finds. These germs naturally live in and around teeth. But not everyone’s pearly whites host a lot of these beneficial bacteria. Some scientists would now like to change that.

Their goal is to seed the mouth with these good bacteria. Such treatments are known as probiotics.

Cavities — also known as dental caries — are small holes that form in teeth. Some of these children had no cavities. Others had many.

The researchers tested different bacteria, looking for ones that could help fight tooth decay. The most promising germ came from a child with healthy teeth. Called A12, the microbe “has all the properties we look for in a bacterium to be able to fight caries,”

What actually happens

Tooth decay can develop when too much acid builds up in the mouth. That acid will eat away at the hard outer coating, or enamel, that protects teeth. Acidic foods, such as lemons, limes, and oranges can deliver some of that acid. But most of it comes from a bacterium known as Streptococcus mutans.

S. mutans munches on sugar, making lactic acid. The more sugar someone eats, the more S. mutans will flourish. And the more of these germs that colonize our teeth, the more lactic acid they can make.

Helpful bacteria tend to perish in a very acidic environment. So S. mutans can eventually take over the mouth. This can lead to cavities or more serious types of oral disease.

A12, though, has three special abilities that help it defeat S. mutans in the battle for healthy teeth.


it makes a chemical weapon that kills S. mutans. The weapon is hydrogen peroxide. Many people use this substance on cuts or scrapes because it kills harmful bacteria. It has the same effect inside the mouth.


A12 makes it hard for S. mutans to form biofilms. A biofilm is a community of microbes that sticks to a surface. In the mouth, biofilms include the white goopy stuff, called plaque, that builds up on teeth when someone forgets to brush. In order to settle into a biofilm, bacteria need to send and receive chemical messages. A12 interrupts these messages, leaving S. mutans bacteria unable to communicate.


and most importantly, A12 makes the mouth less acidic. It does this by making ammonia. And this “neutralizes acids that could destroy the teeth,”

Athina Tsiorva

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