How Close Are We to Cavity-Proof Teeth?

How Close Are We to Cavity-Proof Teeth?

Thanks to Brilliant for supporting this episode
of SciShow. Go to to learn more. [♩INTRO] There’s nothing fun about getting a cavity. They can be uncomfortable to have and expensive
to treat, and sometimes, it can feel like there’s
not much you can do to prevent them. Like, you’re already brushing your teeth
twice a day and flossing! How did tooth decay happen? In many ways, the world would be a better
place if we could just prevent cavities from popping up altogether. And the beautiful
thing is, we might be able to. Ultimately, to keep our mouths cavity-free, we have to tackle the main cause of tooth
decay. And no, I’m not talking about sugar. I’m talking about a bacterium called Streptococcus
mutans. It’s one of the many types of bacteria in
your mouth, and it’s one of the main things that causes
cavities. S. mutans lives on your teeth, feeds off the
sugars on your tooth plaque, and almost instantly turns those sugars into
acid. Normally, compounds in your saliva neutralize
the extra acid after a few minutes, which is why you don’t really notice S.
mutans at work. But that acid can still accumulate around
the microbe itself. And if you don’t brush it away, you can
develop a really acidic spot on your tooth. If that spot develops for long enough, the
acid can wear away tooth’s outer surface, potentially creating a pit so deep that it
becomes a full-blown cavity. That’s a good reason to clean your teeth, but sometimes, cavities can happen despite
your best efforts. And besides, not everyone has regular access
to fancy toothbrushes and floss. So while there are plenty of preventative
options, scientists have also begun to investigate if there’s anything we can do
to get rid of S. mutans for good. And so far, they’ve found some possibilities! For one, a few studies have noticed that people
who have more of the amino acid arginine in their mouths tend
to get fewer cavities. According to a 2018 experiment, this could
be because a different strain of Streptococcus metabolizes arginine into a
tiny amount of hydrogen peroxide. And that hydrogen peroxide prevents S. mutans from fermenting sugar and, ultimately, from
growing. So if we could introduce the right kind of
Streptococcus into a toothpaste, we might be able to reduce cavities. That isn’t the only option, though. In 2011, researchers also came up with a special
mouthwash that can kill S. mutans while leaving helpful
bacteria alone. The compound in their mouthwash is called
C16G2, which… would probably benefit from a good brand name. It’s a synthetic antimicrobial compound
designed to quickly target a specific chemical S. mutans gives off. And while it can sometimes attack other bacteria, it almost only kills these cavity culprits. In a test, the mouthwash effectively reduced
the damage done to tooth enamel by the S. mutans bacteria, as well. Which is
great! So far, though, these options for eliminating
cavities are promising, but they’re not well-tested enough to go
prime time. We’ll need more research to prove that they’re
definitely effective and safe. But hey, if this someday means a world with
no cavities… I’m all for it. This cavity problem is really just one big
puzzle, where scientists have to figure out how to get rid of S. mutans without disrupting
the rest of our mouths. It’s a huge exercise in problem-solving and if that kind of thing sounds like your
jam, you might enjoy the Joy of Problem Solving
course from Brilliant. The course doesn’t focus on mouth bacteria; instead, it challenges you to improve your
logic and math skills. But it does so in a really fun way that’s
way more interesting than your typical math lesson. Like, you solve problems with humans and vampires, figure out how to rearrange coins, and learn
more about how to catch when someone is stretching the truth. Which, I don’t know… seems like a pretty
useful skill. When you’re done with this course, you can
check out all of Brilliant’s other math, science, computer science, and engineering
courses. They’re working on some new courses, too,
so keep an eye out for that. If you want to sign up, head over to The first 200 people to sign up there will
get 20% off their annual Premium subscription. [♩OUTRO]

99 thoughts on “How Close Are We to Cavity-Proof Teeth?

  1. I listened to my dentist, brush my teeth everyday, started flossing with wire instead of water floss, use fluoride mouthwash and toothpaste, and I still get cavities while my brothers skip some days brushing their teeth and they're clean. Hand over C16G2 now

  2. I wish more folks had teeth like mine, because they seem to be unable to get cavities. Never had one in my 19 years of life.

    I always thought it was because I rid of any food bits on my teeth after I eat.

    Weird! Wonder why I don't get them.

  3. Soo what your essentially saying is that instead of when i have a incoming tooth infection only i should wash my mouth with, Cetylpyridinium chloride daily (that,ll show em mutant streppos ๐Ÿ˜› )

  4. I love your videos; but you wrote incorrectly the name of the Bacteria; remember that the scientific name goes only with the genus in capital letters and the species with low case

  5. You know how you start the zombie apocalypse right, introducing the "right" kindof streptocaucus to toothpaste. That's how you start the zombie apocalypse. Headline from 2030 " in 2020, in order to get rid of cavities, Colgate, in conjunction with Monsanto 98% of active toothbrushes into to zombies."

  6. What they're not saying specifically is that all that gobbledygook means there is a genetic component to cavities. I'm over 40, I've lived rough at times, never had a cavity.

  7. They won't help us with that until they find a way to make a bundle off of it. Then I wonder if it will be like elixirs during the old west.

  8. When I brush twice a day, I always have one stupid tooth messing with me. It always get toothe aches in that one tooth, no others. I am a very soft brusher too, so I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I just decided to brush once in the morning and now my teeth are as good as ever.

  9. There was a thing called Keep 32 like a decade ago that could do it, then it was bought by some corporate interests and it vanished.

  10. I'd be interested for scientists to look into my mouth and figure out why I have no cavities. I'm not the best at regularly cleaning my teeth, I have braces and every time I go to the dentist I'm sure they'll find something, but they just praise me on my teeth (I'm 27).

  11. Didn't mention the guy who isolated and modified a specific strain of the bacteria that doesn't release acid and outcompetes the normal bad bacteria

  12. Every time we mess with a biome it turns out bad. We eliminate S.Mutans and then we find that it kept a much worse thing in check.

  13. I'll tell you a secret,if you put 30 percent of hydrogen peroxide with water dilute,you will never have to worry about cavities again,but you have to spray in your mouth every day

    This stuff seriously works, two weeks and my two decent sized cavities disappeared. Use preferable at night, when you are not going to be eating or drinking anything before going to sleep. Brush lightly with a soft toothbrush that fits the size of your mouth, and let it sit for a while on your teeth. I leave it in while showering. DO NOT SWALLOW. It is fluoride free, but contains some other chemicals that will probably hurt your stomach. A small bit won't do any harm. I highly advise against letting children use this, I'd probably only trust kids above the age of ten to not swallow it.

  15. Keep hoping.. the tooth brush / paste / flouss industry will collapse. They will spend trillions to make sure nothing like this ever gets to market..

  16. Wouldn't help me. six years ago I was in a coma and had tubes in my mouth going down my throat. Well my teeth dried out and after I woke up and after they took the tubes out. They wouldn't let me have any water. A couple months later after i was back on solid food I was eating corn on the cob and three teeth snapped off.

  17. Maybe I'm a mutant, never had a cavity. I'm certainly an outlier in my family, everyone else has had many.

    Side note is I also went keto some years ago so that likely helps.

  18. Maybe it we stopped eating foods what have buttloads of sugar in them, maybe we would not be needing to created cavity-resistant teeth

  19. Dog toothpaste has enzymes that fight plaque and tarter build up. glucose oxidase, and lacto peroxidase are they safe for human use?

  20. Would they allow a product on the market that would put dentists out of work , hmmm ,i don't think so , would they invent cars that run on water that cost nothing to run , i don't think so , would all people on earth stop lying ,cheating ,stealing , etc , hmmm , we wouldn't need police , jails , courts , lawyers ,etc etc , now, how close are we to cavity proof teeth , well we'll probably have a tootpaste that claims such a thing , but doesn't actually deliver .lol .

  21. When my son was eight or nine he got his first cavity, which was, thankfully, in a baby tooth. His dentist told me that if he gets anymore that we could put a sealant on his teeth that would prevent further cavities. I asked why couldn't we just do the sealant now and avoid further cavities. He said he'd make request to the insurance company, but that he hadn't gotten the go ahead for just one cavity before. Well, the insurance company gave him the go ahead and he put the sealant on my son's teeth. He has never had another cavity! He's 34 now and has NO FILLINGS!

  22. Or you could just NOT eat sugary foods, which are only awful for your body and mind due to their metabolism and addictiveness, not to mention fattening qualities..

  23. I drunk nothing caffeinated sodas for the last thirteen years of my life. never gotten a cavity but my teeth do now smell like a strange mix of Coca-Cola and mountain dew even after I brush them. I'd say Im already cavity proof! (Note: I do drink water once or twice a day to. it's not just strictly soda. anybody you drink nothing but soda would be severely dehydrated and this post is not imply you should go and drink nothing but soda for the rest of your life. Don't adopt my unhealthy lifestyle)

  24. C16GS just subbing letters for similarly shaped numbers would be CIGGS. Oh no, this is a subversive effort by the tobacco industry to get kids to smoke as a means of cavity prevention!

  25. Like many other discoveries, this will never happen. What will the dentists do if there are no cavities? Until profit is removed out of the equation,we will have no real progress

  26. I've not kept the best care of my teeth, but I've been lucky to only have a few cavities. Don't be like me; be better. Use chalk toothpaste instead of gel, wash down sugary food/drink with water, get an electric toothbrush, floss often, and if they ache put some paste on them for 15min twice a week.

  27. but scishow isn't flossing BS, I saw this on one've your other episodes. can y'all get your story straight and whatever you do don't change your tune and start telling me life is now the result of creation

  28. Me and my dad have strange genes – we are able to not brush for 2 or 3 weeks at a time without any pain or decay. While my friend Steve will totally get a cavity if he doesn't brush for 3 days

  29. I'm someone who brushes my teeth twice a day, and flosses 1-3 times, I use toothpaste and mouthwash, but I almost always cavities. My sister does the same, and she almost never gets cavities. We both chug diet coke like motherfuckers, so you know what the difference is? Unlike her, I eat chocolate almost every day. These are really cool developments, but in the meantime, yes, you really should lay off the sugar to save your teeth.

  30. When I was a teenager, they showed that you can use electricity to basically electroplate fluoride onto teeth in the dentists' office with the result that the teeth could not get cavities for a year or more, even if you did not brush. I never heard anything about it after that. Feels like a conspiracy.

  31. I did a report in my Microbio class about a modded version of S. Mutans that secreted ethanol instead. Very interesting but from what I could find the research isnt being conducted anymore.

  32. Nice!ย  I was the 6666th person to like this video!ย  But why would anyone dislike it?ย  Are they the bacteria?ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. I bet the dentists are delaying putting this stuff on the market ๐Ÿ˜‘ I love my dentist but I know heโ€™s gotta make money

  34. I have a question: why do many mammals such as cats, canids, rodents, goats, camels, etc. have their top lip split in the middle? And why only the top one? And how come fish, reptiles, birds, and part of the mammals don't have that?

  35. "we are very close"….yes, arent we so perpetually?

    5 years back read about using electric current to mobilise calcium into cavity area & how we were very close to it.

    Never heard about it again๐Ÿ™„

  36. I have had 0 cavities in my entire life, and am almost 31 years old…I do brush, but not as often as i should…superpower maybe?

  37. I have two deep cavities and my dentist give me feelings on them and in case I get another deep cavity I got free medication for my dentist

  38. Now I may understand why my brother always got cavities despite taking good care of his teeth and I've never gotten one despite neglecting my teeth.

  39. But is there anything humans can do to prevent cavities?
    It seems like some people just have natural defences against teeth decay. As much as I hate myself for it, I have terrible dental hygiene and can barely remember to brush once a week.

    Yet other than a bad breath and colour, my teeth are fine. No cavities or pain at all.
    One could think my diet is fine, but it's mostly chocolate and meat, two things dentist would be terrified to hear.

    So could there be a dental issue with the recommended dietary intakes? Could there be a natural body defence on a genetic level? Could I just be lucky?

    And it's not just me, plenty of people do have bad dental hygiene, yet don't get cavities, yet there are people who even as the video says, brush and brush, floss and floss, yet they get hit with cavities and we don't.

    Something is up with our dental understanding.

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