For some individuals, simply going to the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and a check up just isn’t enough. Some individuals have poor genetics, or poor hygiene, and require a lot of “drilling and filling” on their teeth to remedy cavities. A group of Harvard Medical School faculty members, who are working at the Forsyth Institute in Boston, an independent research and educational organization focused on oral and craniofacial science, may have had the breakthrough so many of us need.
The Forsyth team is approaching the problem as early as possible: childhood. The vaccine that the Forsyth team has created would work essentially like other vaccines: by introducing a foreign substance (an antigen) into the body. The antigen will trigger the immune system to produce antibodies, which attack the antigens and stay in the system indefinitely. This vaccine would be squirted into the nostrils of children in the first few years of their life.
The vaccine itself would use an antigen called glucosyltransferase, or GTF. This is an enzyme that allows decay causing bacteria to accumulate on the teeth and makes it impossible for decay-producing microorganisms to cling to the teeth and cause cavities.