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Radiant plasma may combat cavities

Here's a new way to flash a smile: Waft a glowing plasma of charged particles onto your teeth. Researchers in the Netherlands and the United States have shown that a radiant vapor made from electrically zapped helium gas quickly kills colonies of the main bacterial culprit in tooth decay.

The finding might ultimately lead to improved dental-office techniques for stopping—and possibly even reversing—early-stage decay caused by Streptococcus mutans or other microbes and for disinfecting hard-to-reach areas between teeth, says David R. Drake of the University of Iowa College of Dentistry in Iowa City.

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