Want whiter teeth and fewer cavities? This treatment does just that — without need for toothbrush!

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WASHINGTON — Do you want whiter teeth? If so, ditch the toothbrush! Researchers with the American Chemical Society have developed a new hydrogel treatment that breaks apart cavity-forming biofilms and whitens teeth without harming them.

It’s important to note this new research is not telling people to stop brushing their teeth. Brushing and flossing on a daily basis prevents cavities from forming. These methods, though, don’t help whiten teeth.

When people want to whiten their teeth, they often turn to over-the-counter or professional treatments that combine hydrogen peroxide-containing gels and blue light, which produces a chemical reaction that removes stains. While this combination extracts stains, the treatment can harm enamel, leading to cavities and discoloration.

For their latest research, scientists combined bismuth oxychloride nanoparticles, copper oxide nanoparticles, and sodium alginate into a thick mixture. They then coated the surface of teeth stuck to a slide with the mixture. Afterward, researchers sprayed the concoction with a calcium chloride solution, which formed a strong adhering hydrogel.

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Following this, the team tested the material on teeth that were stained with coffee, tea, blueberry juice, and soy sauce and placed in a lab dish. Researchers note that after the teeth were treated with the hydrogel and green light, the teeth got brighter over time and there was no enamel damage. The treatment also ended up killing 94 percent of bacteria in biofilms.

To make sure the treatment could work on teeth in living organisms, researchers used the new method on mice whose mouths contained cavity-forming bacteria. Researchers say the green light-activated hydrogel prevented moderate and deep cavities from forming.

With these results in hand, study authors conclude their safe, brush-free treatment both prevents cavities and whitens teeth.

The study is published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

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