A new mouthwash that promises to eliminate tooth decay in our lifetime has opened up new line of research into treating dental ailments.

Developed at the UCLA School of Dentistry, the new mouthwash targets Streptococcus mutans bacteria, primarily responsible for causing tooth decay and cavity.

With Americans spending more than $70 billion each year on dental services, and a majority of the amount being spent in treating dental caries, the new finding could be a step toward eradicating all forms of tooth decay.

The new mouthwash is the result of nearly 10 years of research conducted by Wenyuan Shi, chair of the oral biology department at the UCLA School of Dentistry. Based on a new antimicrobial technology called STAMP (specifically targeted anti-microbial peptides), Shi collaborated with Colgate-Palmolive and C3-Jian to develop the mouthwash.

The mouthwash uses a STAMP known as C16G2. If STAMP C16G2 is approved by the FDA for general use, it will be the first such anti-dental caries drug since fluoride which was licensed some 60 years ago.

The study explained that most common broad-spectrum antibiotics, like conventional mouthwash, indiscriminately kill both benign and harmful pathogenic organisms and only do so for a 12-hour time period. Millions of different bacteria reside in the human body, some of which cause dental caries, but there are other bacteria which are equally essential for sustaining optimum health.

Shi's STAMP C16G2 investigational drug, tested in the clinical study, acts as a sort of smart bomb, eliminating only the harmful bacteria and remaining effective for an extended period.

Based on the success of this limited clinical trial, C3-Jian has filed a New Investigational Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). More extensive clinical trials are expected to begin in March 2012.

With this new antimicrobial technology, we have the prospect of actually wiping out tooth decay in our lifetime, said Shi, who noted that this work may lay the foundation for developing additional target-specific smart bomb antimicrobials to combat other diseases.

The work conducted by Dr. Shi's laboratory will help transform the concept of targeted antimicrobial therapy into a reality, said Dr. No-Hee Park, dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry. We are proud that UCLA will become known as the birthplace of this significant treatment innovation.

It is known that the overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics can seriously disrupt the body's normal ecological balance, rendering humans more susceptible to bacterial, yeast and parasitic infections.

The study also noted that dental caries, commonly known as tooth decay or a cavity, is one of the most common and costly infectious diseases in the United States, affecting more than 50 percent of children and the vast majority of adults aged 18 and older.