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Vaccine for Dental Caries

Dental caries causing bacteria are streptococcus mutans. Many dentists are at work to find the vaccine which can completely stop Dental caries. The new caries vaccine uses an antigen called glucosyltransferase, or GTF-an enzyme that allows decay-causing bacteria to accumulate on teeth and. It arouses a greater immune response than other previously tested antigens. By stimulating immunity to the enzyme, the vaccine makes it impossible for the decay-producing microorganisms to cling to the teeth.

Unlike many vaccines that work through the bloodstream, this one triggers immunity in saliva and mucous tissues-hence it could be squirted or swabbed into the nostrils. The researchers believe the best way to provide long-term protection against caries is to vaccinate children at about the age of one, after baby teeth have begun to emerge, but before the mutans bacteria have started to amass in destructive numbers. At this age, children's immune systems are developed enough to produce the needed antibodies. (Once the bacteria have begun to build up, usually when a child is between 18 and 36 months of age, antibodies still form, but are powerless to interfere with mutans streptococci that have already established themselves on teeth; in high-sucrose conditions, these bacteria can still cause decay.) Since antibodies remain in the saliva-and can be "boosted"-they could conceivably provide lifelong immunity, although this has yet to be proven.

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