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Studies underway for the first tooth decay treatment in nearly 60 years

This is Science Today. It's been nearly 60 years since fluoride was introduced to combat tooth decay. Since then, there has not been another anti-dental caries drug on the market. But why?

Shi:     It's a complicated question and I guess in part is we get used to using a mechanical approach to dentistry; part of the reason, it's scientific limitations and the other reason is probably a money issue, as well. So, it's a combination of different factors and leads to today's situation.

Narrator:        Dr. Wenyuan Shi, chair of Oral Biology at UCLA, has been working on an anti-microbial technology that specifically targets the bacteria that causes decay. Their technology, which would be used in the form of a mouthwash, is now in official FDA trials and if approved would be the first drug licensed for tooth decay in six decades.

Shi:     This is a very rewarding experience. Being a researcher, when you're working on the project on the bench, you're always wondering [about] the practical value of what you're doing. We really feel we're making an impact.

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