WESTWOOD (CBS) — A mouthwash concocted by a UCLA microbiologist may render cavities and tooth decay a thing of the past.

The innovation developed by Wenyuan Shi, chairman of the UCLA School of Dentistry’s oral biology section, acts as a sort of “smart bomb” against harmful bacteria like, S. mutans, a main cause of cavities and tooth decay.

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Wenyuan Shi (credit: UCLA)

“With this new antimicrobial technology, we have the prospect of actually wiping out tooth decay in our lifetime,” he said.

A successful clinical study involving a dozen people found that those who rinsed with the UCLA-developed mouthwash just once over a four-day testing period experienced a near-complete elimination of the S. mutans bacteria.

Shi has been working on the innovation for over a decade with support from Colgate-Palmolive and a company he founded, C3-Jian Inc.

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He said the findings may lay the groundwork for developing other target-specific anti-microbials to combat other diseases.

In a news release issued by the school, UCLA School of Dentistry, Dean, Dr. No-Hee Park is quoted as saying, “the work conducted by Dr. Shi’s laboratory will transform the concept of targeted antimicrobial therapy into reality.

“We are proud that UCLA will become known as the birthplace of this significant treatment innovation.”

More extensive clinical trials on the mouthwash may begin as early as March 2012.

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