Researchers have recently found that children with early tooth disease and cavities often have a fungus called Candida albicans along with Streptococcus mutans located in the tooth cavity. Candida albicans normally lives in the mouth, but is not usually found in cavities. A new finding shows that Streptococcus mutans produces an enzyme called GtfB which can bind to Candida. If sugar is present, this enzyme then forms a sticky polymeric substance around the candida cells, which allows them to stick to the teeth, along with the bacteria. This symbiotic relationship between the bacteria and fungus creates a difficult-to-remove plaque that increases the severity of tooth decay.
In order to treat this type of childhood aggressive tooth decay, scientists tested whether a two pronged approach might help treat this Candida and bacterial plaque problem. In order to test their theory, researchers compared three treatments. One sample they applied an antibacterial agent. The second sample received an anti-fungal medicine. In the final sample, they applied both an antibacterial and antifungal agent. Treatment of either the antibacterial or the anti-fungal agent only had a moderate effect. When both agents were applied, they saw a dramatic difference. The fungal infection was completely gone. These new findings offer a new approach to fighting aggressive childhood cavity formation.