Seaweed Makes the Difference with Tooth Decay

Next time that you want your teeth truly cleaned – grab some seaweed rather than that toothpaste you have in the cabinet. That’s the latest finding from the Newcastle University scientists who have uncovered an enzyme from the marine bacterium Bacillus licheniformis.

During the upcoming Society for Applied Microbiology Summer Conference, they plan to explain the range of medical applications that seaweed can have, one of which is for teeth cleaning.

As Dr Nicholas Jakubovics of Newcastle University’s School of Dental Sciences explained, “Plaque on your teeth is made up of bacteria which join together to colonise an area in a bid to push out any potential competitors. Traditional toothpastes work by scrubbing off the plaque containing the bacteria – but that’s not always effective – which is why people who religiously clean their teeth can still develop cavities.”

“Work in a test tube has shown that this enzyme can cut through the plaque or layer of bacteria and we want to harness this power into a paste, mouthwash or denture cleaning solution.’
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Professor Burgess, who lead the research, said that they accidently realized the power of this enzyme when looking for a way to keep the hulls of ships clear. He explained that, ‘If we can contain it within a toothpaste we would be creating a product which could prevent tooth decay.

The team will be very busy now, figuring out new uses for this enzyme and working to create products that can help people in many fields.


James Fishman has been involved in the world of online magazines for more than 15 years. He helped launch Sunstone Online and continues to improve the magazine as site editor and administrator. His writing focuses primarily business and technology. To be in touch with James, feel free to contact him at james[at]

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