Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Brushing with Bugs

PostedMarch 4, 2005

Download File (mp3)

In a couple weeks, an innovative approach to cavity prevention will be tried for the first time.  Volunteers will allow an engineered strain of Streptococcus mutans to be rubbed onto their teeth.  J.D. Hillman, a bioengineer at Oregenics Inc., says these bugs use a natural antibiotic to permanently evict their lactic acid-producing relatives that normally live in your mouth.  Then they take up residence.  Lactic acid is what eats away at your teeth to cause decay, and Hillman says his bacterial hit men don't produce it.  It may mean no more cavities, but you'll still have to brush your teeth to prevent gum disease and bad breath.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.