but is it vegan?

GM spray could keep dentist at bay

A single dental treatment that involves spraying genetically-modified bacteria into a patient's mouth could cut the risk of cavities by up to 90%. The spray, which could be on the market in as little as three years and should last a lifetime, contains bacteria similar to that found naturally in the mouth - with one crucial difference. The natural bacteria, streptococcus mutans, produces lactic acid that eats away at teeth, causing decay, whereas the GM bacteria does not. Planting the new form inside the mouth means the natural kind cannot get a foothold, so only one application would ever be needed.
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55 Responses:

  1. Good luck trying to find a dentist that will administer something that will make him obsolete.

    • curgoth says:

      Fluoridated water has made cavities almost obsolete for most people my age (late 20s) already. Dentists have branched out into pimping whitening treatments, etc. to compensate for the difference already.

      • rapier1 says:

        Yup. Dentists will adapt because they know that carries are really just a small part of the services they can offer. They'll still have gingivitis, tartar, and other periodontal diseases. As long as people have mouths they'll always need a dentist at some point.

      • cdavies says:

        Something I've been wondering about for a while now, since mostly drilling is now obsolete, and dentists simply fill cavities with one of the inert gasses and then leave them to recalcify, can we do this at home without the aid of a frustrated sadist?

        Also, I wonder if cavities will make a comeback due to the idiotic fad for bottled water?

        • nibot says:

          dentists simply fill cavities with one of the inert gasses and then leave them to recalcify


        • curgoth says:

          Also, I wonder if cavities will make a comeback due to the idiotic fad for bottled water?

          Yes. IIRC, stats are showing that this is already happening.

          • saowin says:

            I hope you're joking, because I have never heard of bottled water causing cavities.


            • hukuma says:

              The problem is bottled water is not fluoridated, so it doesn't cause cavities per se, but doesn't help prevent them, either.

            • gytterberg says:

              Flouridated tap water has been responsible for a decrease in cavities. Bottled water does not contain flouride. Hence no cavity fighting power.

              I think the effect will be minimal though. Almost nobody consumes nothing but bottled water. Even if it's all you drink, you don't cook with it, and most don't make coffee/tea with it.

              • but you still use fluoride toothpaste twice a day, so you are getting more than enough topical fluoride. Plus we ingest alot of fluride in our diets ad tea is naturally high in fluoride.

            • curgoth says:

              It's fallen off of the Toronto newspaper sites, but there's a copy of the artcile I was thinking of here

      • cjensen says:

        I'm 39 and always had floride. My cavities scoff at floride.

        So long as my coffee habit still stains my teeth and my nightly teeth-grinding threatens to dismantle more of my teeth, my dentist will still have a job.

      • jes5199 says:

        not all cities in the USA fluoridate their water. are there stats that say that those cities have higher cavity counts?

        • cjensen says:

          Your tax dollars have already paid for the answer to your question. 15-40% less tooth decay.

          Also, Wikipedia says that floride's beneficial effect was discovered in the first place because Colorado children had less cavities. After some research, someone figured out that the naturally occuring Floride in the water was responsible.

    • freiheit says:

      Probably worth the trip to Mexico...

  2. kfringe says:

    How does this affect the purity of my precious bodily fluids?

    • jwz says:

      They are no longer your precious bodily fluids, they have been replaced by exact duplicates while you slept.

  3. elegantelbow says:

    Perhaps you'll need to re-spray after every course of antibiotics.

  4. alex_victory says:

    Other things to think about... if you get this treatement and then spit into a lake that contains streptococcus mutans, eventually all the old bateria in that lake will be replaced by the new bacteria, right?

    And why even get the spray? Just make out with someone else who got it.

  5. kimberley66 says:

    One has to wonder what the effects of this treatment would be for those receiving oral sex from people that have undergone this particular treatment. . . .mutant bacterial on ones genitals might not be a good thing. . . . .

  6. ygg13 says:

    I wish they had that earlier, I'm 23 and I have an average of two and a half fillings in each tooth and the condition of my teeth is this morbid thing because teeth never get stronger, only weaker.

  7. fantasygoat says:

    One treatment? How can that be profitable?

    I suspect the lag time is so they can figure out how to make it a weekly application.

    • cjensen says:

      Is LASIK profitable?

      Unless the GM bacterial kill the non-GM bacteria, you'd eventually get some reintroduction of the naturally occurring bacteria (yeah, I know the article says otherwise, but I ain't buying). So you'd need to reapply the GM bacteria periodically.

      • lars_larsen says:

        I'm not buying this either. Never has any GMO been "fitter" than its wild counterpart. And even if it does work, how long before bacteria become resistant to the antibiotic it produces?

        They'll come out with new versions every few years right after the patent expires, just like with antibiotics.

  8. baconmonkey says:

    and how long before the dental equivalent of the RIAA and MPAA starts suing people who get that treatment? I can't wait til the PSA ads start appearing before movies discouraging it as a frankenstein monster.

    • nightrider says:

      Or, you just get sued for making out with someone who's got the mutant bacteria...

      Excuse me sir, but do you have a registration code for that genetically modified spit you're carrying around?

    • gytterberg says:

      You wouldn't steal gold fillings out of your dentist's office, would you? If you get your oral flora replaced, you might as well. Also, it hurts the carpenters who build dentists' offices. Think of the carpenters, jackass.

  9. violentbloom says:

    so it's not exactly the lactic acid that is the problem in tooth decay. Lactic acid is produced in a number of ways by the body, in example it's a by product when you excercise and the body burns off lactate.

    "Along with S. sobrinus, S. mutans plays a major role in tooth decay, metabolizing sucrose to lactic acid.[2] The acidic environment created in the mouth by this process is what causes the highly mineralized tooth enamel to be vulnerable to decay. The microbe was first described by JK Clark in 1924. S. mutans is one of a few specialized organisms equipped with receptors for adhesion to the surface of teeth. Sucrose is utilized by S. mutans to produce a sticky, extracellular, dextran-based polysaccharide that allows them to cohere to each other forming plaque. S. mutans produces dextran via the enzyme dextransucrase using sucrose as a substrate in the following reaction:"

  10. shephi says:

    in traditional I_dont_get_the_joke fashion:
    nearly everything manmade is unvegan on somelevel. most vegans have thought through thresholds which sketch out what they'll avoid. bacteria itself is vegan to all living vegans, as otherwise they'd be dead. some hippies have problems with GM, and some have problems with animal testing which was likely used for developing the bacterium, and otherthings, so on those particular thresholds perhaps this particular bacterium is unvegan. my vegan verdict is spray me up scottie.

    anyway, I think every mention of dental hygiene should involve a rendition of how Nat Friedman fucked up his teeth, have you heard that story? if you have you missed the boat.

    • lars_larsen says:

      I've bought my dentist WAY more sportscars than Nat ever did.

    • jwz says:

      I have heard -- and, in fact, caused -- many fine Nat stories, but not that one...

      • geektalk says:

        maybe she means this one?

        I thought it was really funny when, as a freshman at MIT, I asked a company for whom I did consulting to pay me in cases of coca cola. My room was packed from floor to ceiling with coke; I practically brushed my teeth with it. What a crazy boy! He's so crazy!

        Crazy like a dodo.

  11. msjen says:

    Your vexing vegan questions are keeping me up at night. Please stop, thank you very much.

    Sincerely, Ms. Jen

    PS Yes.

  12. bitpuddle says:

    I'm pro-cavity.

  13. babynutcase says:

    I put two or three drops of tea tree oil on my toothbrush. Wipes out everything.

  14. freiheit says:

    So, if I've got a hot date and use a bit too much mouthwash will I kill all the expensive leased GM bacteria in my mouth and need a reapplication?

    What about drinking too much really good bourbon?