Amazing Amylase
Mika Lu, Julie Lee
Sir Winston Churchill
Floor Location : M 094 H

Plaque is the main cause of gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities. Usually, this sticky biofilm is formed when bacteria congregate around leftover food particles, especially carbohydrates (starches and sugars). Amylase is a natural enzyme found in approximately 0.5% of human saliva that is able to break down starches into simpler sugars, which can be washed away by the salivary flow. We wanted to test if we could apply a higher concentration of amylase onto teeth to prevent plaque growth.

Our hypothesis was that the highest concentration of amylase applied to the teeth would be the most effective in preventing plaque growth. This is because the higher the concentration is, the functionality and efficiency of the enzyme also increase.

For our experiment, we applied starch and varying amylase concentrations onto teeth and put them in an incubator for 40 minutes to allow the amylase to break down the starch. We then dropped human saliva onto the teeth to introduce bacteria and put them back into the incubator for 48 hours to allow the bacteria to culture. After taking them out, we applied a biofilm stain on each tooth and rinsed them off to see the plaque that was formed. Then, we took close-up, aerial pictures of each tooth and calculated the percentage of each tooth covered with plaque by using a program called ImageJ.

The results verified our hypothesis. After compiling, analyzing and comparing the data, we found that the solution with the highest concentration of amylase (10%), had the lowest percentage of plaque formed.

In conclusion, we found that among the five different concentrations of amylase (0%, 1%, 2%, 5%, and 10%), as the concentration of amylase is increased, the amount of plaque formed is decreased. With these results, amylase can possibly be incorporated into oral products such as toothpastes and mouthwashes that we use daily to aid in preventing cavities, gum disease and tooth decay.