There is no doubt that fluoride helps fight cavities, but Stony Brook oral biologist Dr. Israel Kleinberg has developed what he believes is a better cavity- fighting substance – and he now has evidence to support his theory.
The results from a two-year study of the substance – called CaviStat – suggest that children who brushed with the bacteria-fighting substance had 96 percent fewer cavities than those who used a common fluoride paste.
“CaviStat skunked fluoride,” said Kleinberg, who will present the findings next month at the International Association for Dental Research in Sweden.
Kleinberg is chairman of oral biology and pathology at the Stony Brook University and has spent his 36-year career unraveling the infectious disease process that leads to tooth decay. With 300 different types of bacteria crowding the mouth, many bacteria clump into plaque that sticks to the tooth’s surface. Sugar and carbohydrates from food interact with this bacteria to form acid, which dissolves the tooth’s enamel. With enamel chipping away, bacteria have room to invade the tooth. Hence, a cavity.
Decades ago, Kleinberg found in saliva a number of peptides that interact with bacteria and plaque. One peptide in particular – arginine – protects teeth from bacterial damage. It works by neutralizing acids. Kleinberg also identified another compound in saliva called precipitin that pulls together calcium and phosphate. CaviStat is part calcium builder and part bad-bacteria blocker.
“This substance shows a lot of promise,” said David Pashley, a regents professor of oral biology at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.
“The Stony Brook scientists are very rigorous in their studies.”
Stony Brook partnered with scientists at Venezuela’s Central University in Caracas to test the compound in a double-blind trial against fluoride. Almost 725 Venezuelan children were divided into two groups to receive either CaviStat or a fluoride toothpaste to be used three times a day. Each brushing lasted a minute, followed by a 30-second rinse.
The children who brushed with the CaviStat paste had significantly fewer cavities after the first year, and the scientists even saw a reversal of tooth decay. By the second year, the fluoride group had almost twice the number of cavities, Kleinberg said.
The study was funded by Ortek Therapeutics, a company based in Roslyn Heights that has been developing Kleinberg’s findings for more than a decade.
Dental experts had hoped that fluoride, a mineral, would end tooth decay. Now that fluoride is in toothpastes and in 70 percent of the country’s water supplies, cavity rates are down about 30 percent, compared with rates before fluoride’s widespread use.
“We think we have something that is much better,” said Kleinberg. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a CaviStat polishing paste for dental offices to be used for the treatment of tooth sensitivity, a problem for millions of Americans. Now, the company is working on a paste that people can use at home for tooth sensitivity, said Mitch Goldberg of Ortek.
In time, Kleinberg says that he envisions a series of bacteria-fighting drinks, candy, gum and toothpaste designed to fight cavities.