Health & Wellbeing

Iron-oxide "nanozymes" could help fight cavities

Iron-oxide "nanozymes" could h...
The nanozyme treatment may make visits to the dentist less of an ordeal
The nanozyme treatment may make visits to the dentist less of an ordeal
View 1 Image
The nanozyme treatment may make visits to the dentist less of an ordeal
1/1
The nanozyme treatment may make visits to the dentist less of an ordeal

For people with particularly cavity-prone teeth, daily brushing and flossing aren't always enough. A new treatment could help, as it uses tiny particles known as nanozymes to break down plaque and kill cavity-causing bacteria.

Currently being developed by scientists from the University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University, the experimental technique incorporates two main components: a solution which is applied to the teeth, and a hydrogen peroxide rinse that is subsequently swished in the mouth then spat out.

The solution is called ferumoxytol, and it's already FDA-approved for the treatment of iron-deficiency anemia. It contains iron-oxide nanoparticles that have enzyme-like qualities, and are thus referred to as nanozymes.

Once the ferumoxytol has been applied to the teeth, the nanozymes bind to receptors on the cell membranes of cavity-causing Streptococcus mutans bacteria. When the hydrogen peroxide rinse is subsequently introduced, the iron oxide serves as a catalyst that converts the hydrogen peroxide into oxidants. Those oxidants kill the bacteria by rupturing their membranes, plus they break up the plaque biofilms produced by the bacteria, for easier removal.

The process reportedly doesn't damage the teeth or oral tissues. It also doesn't harm non-target bacteria, due to the fact that the hydrogen peroxide conversion only takes place in highly acidic conditions, such as those that occur when S. mutans bacteria are present and active.

In a test of the treatment, 15 volunteers wore a denture-like appliance that incorporated real tooth enamel, for a 14-day period. Four times each day, they simulated the consumption of sugary foods by applying a sugar-containing solution to the device.

Additionally, twice each day, five of the participants performed the ferumoxytol/hydrogen peroxide therapy, five others performed a variation in which only the inactive (non-nanozyme) ingredients of the ferumoxytol were present, and five others simply rinsed with water. After the two-week period was up, it was found that the tooth-enamel devices worn by the first group contained much less plaque and S. mutans bacteria than those of the other two groups.

A paper on the research, which is being led by the University of Pennsylvania's Prof. Hyun (Michel) Koo, was recently published in the journal Nano Letters.

Source: University of Pennsylvania

3 comments
3 comments
TechGazer
What percentage of the population will be willing to add a twice-a-day procedure to their day for a possibly minor benefit? Especially if it's significantly more expensive than toothpaste, and even more especially if it tastes bad. Twice-daily rinsing with peroxide might also cause health problems by damaging the microbiome. They may say it doesn't kill other bacteria, but peroxide is used as a fairly potent antibacterial on wounds and as a disinfectant, so I'm not trusting their claim. 14 days is not nearly enough time to judge whether there are any negative effects, especially with only 10 subjects.
bwklast1
@TechGazer peroxide is a weak almost laughable disinfectant and you are supposed to spit it out, not swallow it.

I would like to volunteer for the next test program but they won't need to simulated the consumption of sugary foods
by applying a sugar-containing solution,
I will use real sugar :)
Christian
There are already regimens that can reset the oral microbiome killing S.Mutans, like the Cari-Free program. Like TechGazer says, if people can't even bother to brush and floss twice a day (which would actually prevent almost all cavities) why would they do this one? For those who struggle with cavities beyond brushing and flossing, dry-mouth caused by prescriptions and medications are almost always the culprit and for those we advise MORE brushing/rinsing and higher fluoride toothpastes or rinses (which are NOT swallowed).

The flip side is that once the oral micriobiome has been reset from a Calcium-Dissolving environment, it almost always switches to a Calcium-Depositing environment and Gum Disease. Acidic to Alkaline, caused by new bacteria filling the niche.

Just keep your teeth clean, and if you need a little extra help, clean them more often and with a better toothpaste/rinse