Oral microbiota transplant to combat cavities?

Could an oral microbiota transplant cure dental cavities and periodontitis, just as a fecal transplant cures some gastrointestinal diseases?

 

Cavities are the most widespread dental disease worldwide, ahead of severe periodontitis (degradation of the supporting tissue of the teeth), which is the sixth most common human disease. The conventional treatment for these two dental diseases, closely associated with an imbalance of the oral microbiota, consists in controlling the formation of biofilms on the gums and metabolic activities of these aggregates of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is not enough however, and specialists call for the development of innovative, more effective and less costly, therapeutic strategies, to address this major public health problem.

Transplant of dental plaque

In the light of the success of fecal microbiota transplants to treat Clostridium difficile infections, why not replicate the method? Dental health researchers therefore suggested that this approach be applied to the oral microbiota and that patients be treated with an oral transplant. The experiment could include several steps: removal of dental plaque from a healthy donor and its preservation in a saline solution; then administration of an antiseptic treatment to the recipient to destroy their dental plaque before transferring the “good” oral microbiota to the patient’s damaged teeth on a swab.

An attractive theory … to be explored further

This theory is attractive but it requires further investigation, warns the author of a study published in a specialist journal. For many questions remain: should the oral microbiota be transplanted directly into the patient or should pathogenic bacteria it contains be destroyed beforehand? Would there be any benefit in culturing the graft in vitro? Should the operation be repeated for it to be effective? Since the aim of the method is to diversify the oral microbiota, could it be used to treat cavities as well as periodontitis, which is already associated with a highly diversified bacterial environment? Research still has a long way to go to ensure the success of an oral microbiota transplant.

 

Sources:

Marcelle M. Nascimento, Oral microbiota transplant: a potential new therapy for oral diseases. J Calif Dent assoc. 2017 Octobre ; 45(10): 565-568