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First tooth decay treatment in 60 years under study

Narrator:        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.

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.