Thursday, September 04, 2008

Drill-and-fill dentists to be put out of business?

Jeffrey Hillman, a dental researcher at the University of Florida, is convinced he has come up with a way to eliminate tooth decay! All the necessary research has been done on rats; now his company is involved in human testing.

The only major problem, apparently: the solution comes by introducing into the mouth a mutant strain of the bacterium that causes cavities. (The standard form of Streptococcus mutans is present in all of our mouths and transforms sugars into lactic acid . . . which, in turn, rots our teeth. The mutant strain does not produce the acid. And once introduced, the mutant form completely supplants the original in about one year.) The problem: the mutant form may be transmittable from one human being to another. And the FDA, apparently, doesn't like that.

The original report on this potential breakthrough came out over four years ago. Hillman at that time was saying he hoped his product could "go commercial within five to six years."

Now, four and a half years later, according to the latest video on the subject, "Conquering Cavities" by Lynn Martinez, Hillman's company, Oragenics, continues its tests and hopes the FDA testing will be completed in the next three to five years, with the release of the final product a year or so after that.

Wouldn't that be nice?

It certainly would be great news for patients; not very good news for the men and women who have invested years of their lives and a hundred thousand dollars or more in finding out how to drill and fill. . . . But, then, maybe dentists could concentrate almost exclusively on helping us get our teeth straight and looking white!
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