Scientists figure out structure of enzyme that causes plaque to stick to teeth

Scientists have modeled the structure of the enzyme used by the dirty rotten Lactobacillus reuteri bacterium to attach itself to tooth enamel and cause cavities. "This knowledge will stimulate the identification of substances that inhibit the enzyme. Just add that substance to toothpaste, or even sweets, and caries will be a thing of the past."
teeth-cavities.jpgThe University of Groningen researchers analysed glucansucrase from the lactic acid bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri, which is present in the human mouth and digestive tract. The bacteria use the glucansucrase enzyme to convert sugar from food into long, sticky sugar chains. They use this glue to attach themselves to tooth enamel. The main cause of tooth decay, the bacterium Streptococcus mutans, also uses this enzyme. Once attached to tooth enamel, these bacteria ferment sugars releasing acids that dissolve the calcium in teeth. This is how caries develops.
Tooth Decay to Be a Thing of the Past? Enzyme Responsible for Dental Plaque Sticking to Teeth Deciphered
Photo by Shakespearesmonkey. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
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