Research Notes -- New mouthwash formulation protects against tooth decay

by Elizabeth Kumru, UNMC public relations | December 08, 2009

picture disc.A research team at UNMC has developed a new mouthwash formulation that may provide long-term protection against tooth decay.

The team, led by Dong Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmaceutical science in the UNMC College of Pharmacy, has developed a novel drug delivery system to carry antimicrobial agents directly to teeth. Their study was published in the November issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy and also was reported in the Nov. 22 issue of Science Daily.

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UNMC graduate student Fu Chen (left) with Dr. Dong Wang.
One of the contributing factors to dental cavities is overpopulation of acid-producing bacteria in biofilm that is present on the tooth surface, eventually causing dental decay. Dr. Wang's formulation would bind to the tooth surface and gradually release antimicrobials against cavity-forming bacteria.

"The beauty of this design is the simplicity," he said. "All you have to do is your routine oral hygiene procedure and then rinse with the formulation we have developed. It protects the teeth over a long period of time. The key is to have the antimicrobials stay where they are most needed -- the tooth surface."

Authors and collaborators

Lead author on the paper was graduate student Fu Chen, who conducted many of the experiments with coauthor Xue Li. Collaborators include:

  • Kenneth Bayles, Ph.D., professor of pathology and microbiology in the College of Medicine;
  • Richard Reinhardt, Ph.D., D.D.S., the B.J. and Ann Moran Professor of Periodontology in the College of Dentistry;
  • Xin-Ming Liu, research assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the College of Pharmacy, and
  • Kelly Rice, Ph.D., of the University of Florida, Gainesville.

In addition to cavity prevention, Dr. Wang's formulation could have far-reaching implications -- for the elderly in nursing homes who may not have easy access to dental care and for protection against an increased risk of heart disease. A recent study found that poor dental hygiene leads to heart attack and stroke due to the bacteria having direct access to the bloodstream through bleeding gums.

Based upon the same principle, Dr. Wang's research group also explores using other drug delivery systems they have developed to improve the treatment of arthritis, cancer and several other inflammatory diseases.

A PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) application has been filed through UNeMed, the technology transfer arm of UNMC. Dr. Wang and his colleagues also seek funding to support a clinical trial and a cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practice) facility to manufacture the formulation.