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Medicine Biotech

Plaque-busting Nanoparticles Could Help Fight Tooth Decay 68

sciencehabit writes: Nanotechnology might soon save you a trip to the dentist. Researchers have developed tiny sphere-shaped particles that ferry a payload of bacteria-slaying drugs to the surface of the teeth, where they fight plaque and tooth decay on the spot (abstract). The approach could also be adapted to combat other plaquelike substances, known as biofilms, such as those that form on medical devices like orthopedic implants.
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Plaque-busting Nanoparticles Could Help Fight Tooth Decay

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  • by ruir ( 2709173 ) on Saturday April 11, 2015 @02:51PM (#49454305)
    Much like the tobacco industry in the 60s, the sugar industry has been lobbying right and left for not be of medical advice on the open to cut out on sweets, unlike it is done for alcohol and tobacco nowadays. Be proactive. It is far cheaper too.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 11, 2015 @03:08PM (#49454365)

      Native Americans did not have problems with tooth decay until they learned how to cultivate corn and significantly increased their intake of sugars.

      • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

        Native Americans didn't live long enough [wikipedia.org] for tooth decay to be a serious problem, so your point is kind of moot.

        • by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Saturday April 11, 2015 @04:45PM (#49454691)

          Native Americans didn't live long enough [wikipedia.org] for tooth decay to be a serious problem, so your point is kind of moot.

          All too often, when discussing the many chronic diseases (diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, many cancers, and yes, dental caries) that appeared to be mostly absent in hunter-gatherer populations but are rampant among 'civilized' populations, many people dismiss such observations by rationalizing that because these populations had much lower life expectancy *at birth* then therefore *nobody* in those populations lived long enough to develop these diseases.

          But that is clearly not the case. Look at the data for life expectancy by age for the US from 1850-2011. [infoplease.com] Yes, life expectancy at birth was nearly half what it is now but the gap narrows considerably if you survived past 20. That is to say, most of the increase in life expectancy at birth comes from curing the childhood illnesses from which many died very young. And while far fewer people lived to 90-100 than now, living into the 70s-80s was not exactly uncommon.

          Also, note that the link you provided shows that life expectancy at birth dropped significantly as hunter-gatherers progressed towards agriculture. The archeological evidence suggests that as early cultures adopted agriculture they became smaller in stature, had many more dental issues, and likely died younger overall. Jared Diamond details the evidence in his well-known book, Guns Germs and Steel.

          It is also well documented that the doctors like Albert Schweitzer who treated the dwindling number of remaining hunter-gatherer populations in the late 19th/early 20th centuries observed very few cases of the "chronic diseases of civilization" as they came to be known, even among the oldest people in those communities, and far lower rates than could be explained by "they just don't live long enough." Yet soon after adopting western diets and/or lifestyles, they would develop these illnesses at similar rates as western populations.

          So I guess only if you ignore the vast amount of evidence that counters the "didn't live long enough" hypothesis, the question might be moot, otherwise maybe you should keep your mind open to alternative explanations.

          • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

            I think you've over-thought my post, I was mostly making a snarky response to the nonsensical argument that sugar is the problem. :)

            It's hard for me to get worked up about sugar. Want to talk about heart disease and attribute it to our sugar intake? I have a single word response: exercise. Regarding dental caries, studies suggest that only 10% to 40% of the population flosses on a regular basis. The variation depends on how you define 'regular', but the 'never flosses' group is invariably >50% of th

            • by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <slashdot3@justconn e c t e d .net> on Saturday April 11, 2015 @07:00PM (#49455235)

              I used to think like you, but the fact of the matter is that most animals simply don't get cavities. Seriously! I mean, their teeth are very capable of getting cavities, but haven't you wondered why humans have teeth that "go bad" without regular maintenance? Have you ever known a dog to floss? The idea that all calories are equal is a tempting one, especially to engineer-types like myself, but it doesn't seem to be true.

              Eating simple sugars is quite rare in the animal world, and presumably primitive humans. We like them so much because they are simple, high-density sources of energy compared to extracting a few calories from some nuts and greens. An early human would get as much as they could - which wasn't very much at all. But we are not set up to mostly run on them to the extent that we try today, and I think the evidence on that is increasingly clear. It's not necessarily simply a question of physical fitness, though it's true that that will probably mitigate many of the downsides like weight gain. The input matters, and calories and nutrients are not necessarily fungible - it doesn't go without saying that getting all your calories and nutrients via soda and multivitamins (and I guess fiber pills) is equivalent to e.g. a balanced diet of vegetables and protein even if the caloric and vitamin content is exactly the same. This of course ignores the fact that it is far, far easier to blow through your calorie budget with high-density foodstuffs.

              It is a hard problem to solve. The basic problem is that our favorite foods bear no relation to foods that we should be eating, which was fine when the only foods there were to eat (mostly) *were* the foods we should be eating - or vice versa, the foods that are good for us are the ones that we evolved to eat. But we have an artificial abundance of the foods we really like, but didn't used to be able to get in common practice.

              And for the record, I eat like a pig, am overweight, etc (though I'm working on it now that I have time). I do not practice the "paleo" fad diet and think most of its claims are bogus. But even though we don't know much about what "primitive" people actually ate, we do know that simple sugars are rare in nature unless artificially grown. Humans are clearly quite adaptable when it comes to diet... but perhaps not infinitely adaptable. We already know that trans fats are shockingly bad, for instance. Perhaps this applies to simple sugar as well - both are found in nature, although much much more rarely than we have been using them. If for no reason other than calories, most people would be better off eating no sugar at all - which would make it much harder to have stupendously high calorie diets.

              • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

                but the fact of the matter is that most animals simply don't get cavities. Seriously! I mean, their teeth are very capable of getting cavities, but haven't you wondered why humans have teeth that "go bad" without regular maintenance? Have you ever known a dog to floss?

                Have you ever actually owned a dog or a cat? Every one I've ever had eventually developed problems with their teeth as they aged, usually ending with the tooth in question needing to be pulled. You don't even need my personal anecdote, it's right here [petmd.com] at the top of a Google search [lmgtfy.com]: While dental caries is not common in the domestic pet, it does occur and should be watched for.

                The idea that all calories are equal is a tempting one

                I didn't claim that all calories are equal, I said that exercise and flossing are more effective ways to improve health than obsess

                • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
                  Your evidence for flossing's benefits outside of your mouth is weak and unlikely to stand outside of empirical bias. The evidence for sugar being bad is much stronger.
                • "Have you ever actually owned a dog or a cat? Every one I've ever had eventually developed problems with their teeth as they aged, usually ending with the tooth in question needing to be pulled."

                  And what did you feed them? I fed my cats commercial foods, and they are really, really not very good for them, dental issues being only one of several.

              • Chimps eat tons of fruit. Fruit isn't simple sugars?
            • I think you've over-thought my post, I was mostly making a snarky response to the nonsensical argument that sugar is the problem.

              I just did a google search of "sugar dental caries" and every single result acknowledges that excess sugar consumption is a significant contributor to dental caries. Is it the sole or even the primary problem? There does not seem to be a consensus to be sure, but to call the OP's point "nonsensical" is to once again ignore significant evidence.

              • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

                Well, I guess a quick Google search makes you a subject matter expert.

                Speaking of ignoring significant evidence, I see you opted not to respond to or even acknowledge my point about flossing statistics. You'll forgive me if I reject the notion that sugar intake is the public health issue we need to be most worried about.

                Even if I accept the premise, here's a little devil's advocate for you: Find a way to meet the caloric requirements of 7,000,000,000 human beings without carb-centric diets. There's a re

                • No, a quick google search does not make me a subject matter expert, but it does show that that your characterization of the idea that sugar plays a major role in dental caries as 'nonsensical' is pretty wide of the mark.

                  And I didn't respond to your point about flossing because it is utterly irrelevant your original assertion. The question of whether flossing mitigates tooth decay (and I would agree that it does) is completely orthogonal to the question of whether sugar contributes to it.

                  Likewise, your

                  • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

                    As noted before and reflected in your original posted link, life expectancy and general health appears to have declined significantly as hunter-gatherers transitioned to agriculture.

                    Correlation does not indicate causation. Compare the population density of hunter-gatherer societies against agricultural ones. I wonder in which society you'd be more likely to contract smallpox?

                    indicates that you are grasping at straws to support your belief when confronted with contrary evidence, in my opinion.

                    Do tell, what is that you think I believe? I've never claimed that sugar doesn't contribute to dental (or other health) problems. I simply stated that it's not the problem. I'm sorry that you failed to parse the word "the" in my post. I suppose I should have been clearer and said "It's not the problem I woul

                    • Correlation does not indicate causation. Compare the population density of hunter-gatherer societies against agricultural ones. I wonder in which society you'd be more likely to contract smallpox?

                      I am not arguing causation, only pointing out the observation and that a diet which supports greater population does not mean that individuals might not less healthy overall as a result. There may indeed be other reasons for this observation other than diet, but diet is certainly a reasonable hypothesis. But while

                    • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

                      Based on what you've said, it appears you believe that sugar is at most a minor contributor to tooth decay or any other chronic disease.

                      It appears you're more adept at putting words into my mouth than you are at parsing the ones I've actually written. Perhaps English is not your native language? Perhaps I'm a shitty writer? Perhaps both?

                      or that the arguments that modern sugar consumption is detrimental to health are unfounded

                      I never claimed that they were unfounded. If you believe that I said that I suggest you read what I've actually written. I simply take exception to the notion that sugar is the problem we most need to concern ourselves with. I even gave you a particularly outlandish example of what I regard as the obs

                    • It appears you're more adept at putting words into my mouth than you are at parsing the ones I've actually written. Perhaps English is not your native language? Perhaps I'm a shitty writer? Perhaps both?

                      Considering that I explained exactly how I was interpreting your words which you declined to correct, yet you still claim I'm misrepresenting your words, I am leaning towards you being a shitty writer.

                      I never claimed that they were unfounded.

                      No, just "nonsensical". *shrug indeed*

                      I even gave you a particul

                • "There's a reason why a pound of pasta costs $0.99 while chicken goes for $1.99 a pound"

                  This isn't just an apples v oranges argument. Pasta chicken. One is a plentiful source of carbs, the other a plentiful source of protein.

                  What was your comparison intended to illustrate? If you meant to point out that protein is expensive, yup, but compare chicken and soybeans, or rice, and then we can have a more useful comparison.

          • But that is clearly not the case. Look at the data for life expectancy by age for the US from 1850-2011. [infoplease.com] Yes, life expectancy at birth was nearly half what it is now but the gap narrows considerably if you survived past 20. That is to say, most of the increase in life expectancy at birth comes from curing the childhood illnesses from which many died very young. And while far fewer people lived to 90-100 than now, living into the 70s-80s was not exactly uncommon.

            What makes you think that the same trend applied to hunter-gatherers? The lifestyle of those born in 1850 likely has no resemblance to the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers.

            Next question -- ever consider that maybe the roughly 50% of people who died around or before age 20 may be a population that's much more vulnerable to "chronic diseases of civilization"? Maybe the reason there weren't many type-2 diabetics or sufferers of congestive heart failure in their 50s is because the people most prone to such disea

            • I was merely using that as an illustration to counter the common misconception that lower life expectancy at birth in a population equates to no one growing old enough to experience diseases that become more common with age. That data clearly indicates otherwise, not to mention that anthropologists who studied the last remaining hunter-gather societies do note that they did indeed have people who lived to ripe old ages.

              As to your hypothesis that younger people were dying of diabetes and heart disease, no

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Sort of: the natives did have sugars, but they also had bad teeth. Read Hernan Cortes sometime: the natives were using sugar from many sources, including agave plants and something that sounds suspiciously like corn syrup. Later Spanish writers report that wherever agave grew, the natives had rotten teeth.

        CAPTCHA: lashings

      • Here in northern Arizona, corn cultivation destroyed the dentition of the Sinagua tribes in a totally different way. Grinding corn in metates, or stone depressions in rock, gave them a cornmeal laced with tiny particles of rock. This wore away their teeth by typically age 35, killing them before decay had a chance to act.

        In any case, by approximately the year 1200 a practical means for the election of Republicans was discovered, making the climate hotter and drier, and the Sinagua had to leave the area.

      • How did cultivating maize impact the Mayans' health?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      But it isn't just sugar that the Republicans are pushing with their farming subsidies. It is other carbohydrates like rice and corn that they are forcing down the throats of the poor. The ADA is a powerful force within the Republican political machine. Don't expect the dentists to allow a reduction in consumption of carbohydrates without putting up a huge fight.

  • ...like plastic, so that we get other health problems with this really clever "solution" instead of just reducing certain intake and using a fucking toothbrush twice a day instead of just once.

  • .... resistance, is futile. Dental caries, as you know them, are over. From this time forward, your teeth will service us......

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have a hunch that all these oral hygiene products are seriously affecting bowel health along with a whole host of other factors in the industrial food complex. But we have to keep our teeth and gums healthy or face other systemic risks. So what to do...

  • "The cleaner nanites made my teeth slippery."

    Deus Ex was right. Deus ex is always right.
  • I can see it now, a drug resistant plaque that starts by eating your teeth, then progresses to the rest of your head. Sweet! How about dental hygiene and a bit less reliance on magic bullets?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. I mean, sure mouthwash and toothpaste haven't caused mouth bacterial to become resistant and eat your head, but somehow this new thing will. Because magic.

    • by Yosho ( 135835 )

      Agreed, just like how we need to stop using vaccines so they don't produce drug-resistant strains of smallpox or measles. It's better to just wash your hands regularly.

      • by tsa ( 15680 )

        Vaccines work in an entirely different way. They 'train' your immune system so that it's ready for the real disease when it comes. Vaccines work BEFORE you are infected, not after.

  • I did. really. tiny robots that eat all the crud off your teeth then die when no more crud.

  • xylitol (Score:2, Interesting)

    by swell ( 195815 )

    Nanobots delivering drugs to my teeth? No thanks. Xylitol sweetener will kill the bacteria, lower acidity and prevent bacteria from sticking to my teeth. And it tastes great. Don't expect your dentist to tell you about it. Don't expect to find it in your ADA approved toothpaste. Why would they want you to use it?

    Just as sugar devastates your oral and physical health, xylitol benefits your health in many ways. Start here: http://xylitol.org/xylitol-use... [xylitol.org]

  • Do they make sure this bacteria-killing stuff is not toxic for humans?
  • Widespread use of whatever drug will select for the population that is resistant.
    Happens throughout the biosphere.

  • Was touted as the stop tooth decay for good http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new... [telegraph.co.uk] 18 Feb 2002; but you never heard of it again.

    Not expecting these Nanoparticles to be public anytime soon, if ever.

  • Too bad the guys who own SeLECT Defense are such terrible salesmen. Everyone in the US, at the very least, should have their teeth sealed with this [e34tech.com]. I put it on four or five years ago, and ever since then I've only had to brush once every few days, to get rid of attached food particles. Stopped my tooth decay dead in its tracks, and it was a real problem before I put it on.
  • i keep hearing about that evil bacteria feeding on sugars, producing acid as a byproduct, and that acids eat up your teeth, most of toothpaste around contains glycerine, and leaves a residue on the teeth after brushing, glycerine - Glycerol /ËÉlÉsÉ(TM)rÉ'l/ (also called glycerine or glycerin; see spelling differences) is a simple polyol (sugar alcohol) compound. [wikipedia] correct me if im wrong...
  • Heart disease next.

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"

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