A team of scientists are working on a new vaccine that turns back the clock on painful tooth decay. The vaccine, known as the jab, was created by scientists from the China-based Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIOV) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and even has the capability of reversing cavities.
Proteins derived from bacteria strains of E. coli are joined with other proteins derived from the Streptococcus mutans bacteria, the bacteria which is the source of cavities in the teeth. The active ingredient comes with the addition of a protein derived from flagella protein-cells. The protein bundle was tested on rodents in the form of a nasal spray.
Scientists reported 64.2 percent effectiveness in cleaning teeth, as well as a 53.9 percent reversal of tooth decay, both significant results. However, the scientists acknowledge that more clinical testing will need to be done to improve the vaccine and increase its effectiveness.
Despite the success of the vaccine, there have been mixed results from dental care professionals, who stress that this vaccine should be used along with, not in place of, regular dental care. Medical Director of Newcastle’s Dovetail Dental in England, Dr. Rob Wain, said of vaccines like this, “For now, it’s best to stick to the proven methods of reducing our risk of tooth decay.This sort of vaccine has always been seen as a sort of dental Holy Grail, as it can help reduce pain and suffering for millions.”
Besides the obviously painful effects that come with tooth decay, there is a whole host of other health problems, some of which are a greater risk for cardiovascular issues like heart disease, and even a serious effect on a person’s emotion/psychological health. The compelling link between a person’s emotions and dental health has been examined a number of scientific studies. Researchers working in the field have even identified a determinant known as oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL), which in a number of studies has been linked to mental health.
Another reason that this vaccine will be greatly welcomed is the widely varying and unpredictable costs associated with dental care, especially in most western countries. Part of this is fueled by the inconsistency in prices quoted by dental professionals.
Executive Director of the National Health Service (NHS) of England Richard Lloyd elaborates on the issue:
"A visit to the dentist is an essential health check for millions of people across the country. Most of us will need dental treatment throughout our lives and it's important that when that happens people feel clear about the nature of the treatment and what it will cost upfront.”
Although few can predict the future life and applications of this vaccine—it is not clear even from the information from the scientists what the duration of or extent of the work entailed in the upcoming round of clinical trials will be—the classic debate in medicine of prevention versus cure will undoubtedly continue.