Oral microbiome transplants could prevent dental decay, study says

oral microbiome transplants

Early results from a trial into the efficacy of oral microbiome transplants suggest that the procedure successfully prevents dental caries with no adverse effects.

Researchers from the University of Adelaide are exploring whether oral microbiome transplants are effective in preventing dental decay.

The procedure involves transferring bacteria from a healthy oral microbiome to a mouth lacking a diverse range of good bacteria. The Adelaide team propose that plaque samples within a toothpaste or gel would be the best method for delivering the transplants.

A pre-clinical trial of the procedure yielded positive results, as the transplants appeared to suppress caries. They also did not have any negative impact in other areas of health such as the gut microbiome.

According to the researchers, there are more than 700 types of bacteria which make up the oral microbiome.

Peter Zilm is an associate professor at the Adelaide Dental School and one of the researchers on the project. He said: ‘Why some people naturally have a healthy microbiome regardless of whether they go to the dentist regularly or not is a mystery.’

A ‘cost-effective solution’ to chronic illness

The study showed that at least 250 bacteria essential for the prevention of tooth decay can be kept alive for up to three months after collection.

Professor Zilm said: ‘By building a biobank of good bacteria from super donors, we hope to develop a paste containing good bacteria that will hopefully improve the oral health of people who are more susceptible to tooth decay and associated conditions.

‘This could be particularly useful for vulnerable members of our community such as the elderly and the very young.’

The ‘super donors’ whose bacteria are used are identified through a screening process developed in collaboration with Penn State University.

The Adelaide researchers hope to secure funding to continue their research, aiming to proceed to human trials within two years.

Professor Zilm added: ‘Having a healthy mouth is crucial for more than just eating and drinking. It’s reflective of our overall health. Poor oral health can even be linked to medical problems such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and birth complications.

‘If we can show that oral microbiome transplants are safe for humans, they could become a cost-effective solution to one of the nation’s most common chronic illnesses.’

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