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How technology for tooth decay may benefit the rest of the body

Narrator:        This is Science Today. Every year, over 60 billion dollars is spent nationwide on tooth decay.

Shi:     It's a huge problem. Something like 45% of kids by the time they get to age of 12, they will experience tooth decay and that number gets to 79% when the kid gets to age 19.

Narrator:        Wenyuan Shi, who chairs the Oral Biology department at UCLA, developed anti-microbial technology that specifically targets the bacteria responsible for tooth decay and is currently being tested for use in a mouthwash. While initially focused on tooth decay, Shi says this technology could expand into pretty much every other microbic community in the body.

Shi:     We're finding we're only 10% human because 90% of the bacteria living in our bodies are bacteria - from our skin to our nose to our oral cavity all the way to our gut flora - all that is full of bacteria and our ultimate health is not only the health of our human cells, but also the bacteria who live with us.

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.