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Tooth decay is one of the most common health problems that people encounter. While it is well-known that eating too much sugar and not brushing teeth regularly may contribute to the development of cavities, scientists have discovered another factor.
Research published in the journal Scientific Express found the molecular tricks that bacteria in the mouth uses to deter the positive effects of flouride. Researchers found that compounds called riboswitches, which are sections of RNA messages, detect build-ups of flouride and activate bacteria to defend against it, including the kind of bacteria that causes tooth decay.
"We were stunned when we uncovered fluoride-sensing riboswitches" said researcher Ronald Breaker. "Scientists would argue that RNA is the worst molecule to use as a sensor for fluoride, and yet we have found more than 2,000 of these strange RNAs in many organisms."
Flouride is a substance used in toothpaste, and adding it to drinking water has been a controversial subject for decades. Researchers say that these findings do not indicate that flouride is unsafe as it is currently used.
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