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Israeli scientists identify molecule preventing dental cavities

The molecule could be added to toothpastes and mouthwashes.

A scanning electron microscope (SEM) view of the surface morphology of biofilm formed by S. mutans after 24 hours untreated (left) and treated (right) with 0.5 M DIM. Images are shown at 5,000 magnification. Photos by Ariel Kushmaro.
A scanning electron microscope (SEM) view of the surface morphology of biofilm formed by S. mutans after 24 hours untreated (left) and treated (right) with 0.5 M DIM. Images are shown at 5,000 magnification. Photos by Ariel Kushmaro.

Scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheva and their colleagues at Sichuan University in Chengdu and the National University of Singapore have identified a naturally occurring molecule that reduces the biofilm that produces plaque and causes cavities.

The researchers found that the molecule 3,3′-Diindolylmethane (DIM), also known as bisindole, disrupted biofilm formation by 90% and therefore bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans were not given a chance to grow and attack enamel.

The findings were published earlier this month in the journal Antibiotics.

“The molecule, which was found to have low toxicity, could be added to toothpastes and mouthwashes to greatly improve dental hygiene,” said lead author Professor Ariel Kushmaro of the Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering at Ben-Gurion.

Kushmaro is also a member of the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the Goldman Sonnenfeldt School of Sustainability and Climate Change.

The study was conducted with Kushmaro’s student Yifat Baruch along with Dr. Karina Golberg and Professor Robert S. Marks, as well as Qun Sun of Sichuan University and Karina Yew-Hoong Gin of the National University of Singapore.

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