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Canadian Plant Mix May Help Fight Tartar

Feb 21, 2014

A Canadian start-up company is developing a new medical device that may improve oral health by coating an illuminated mouthguard with plant extracts common to Nova Scotia.

The goal of Fenol Farm, a Nova Scotia-based life sciences company, is to combine light and compounds from natural plants to prevent plaque buildup.


Using plants to improve dental health and promote oral hygiene has a venerable history throughout different cultures and countries. Plants contain phytochemcials like alkanoids, tannins, flavanoids and essential oils that help protect teeth and combat harmful oral bacteria.

If recent events are any indication, Fenol Farm may be on to something as they recently claimed a $100,000 prize for their invention in a Canadian venture capital contest.

Fenol Farm co-founder and CEO, Sherri McFarland, and Chief Technology Officer, Colin Cameron, discovered specific compounds extracted from native plants that can be light-activated to kill targeted cells in two types of dental patients:

  • Patients highly susceptible to plaque and tartar buildup. These people require dental visits three or four times annually to have tartar removed.
  • Patients with braces. People with braces frequently suffer from cavities and/or white spots due to tartar buildup around their braces.

Here’s how the system works: a dental tray similar to a mouthguard is embedded with micro-sized LED lights. The user coats the top and bottom of the tray with the plant extract paste before activating the lights and inserting the tray in their mouth.  Users leave it there for  one minute, three times a week to prevent tartar buildup.

Cameron has expertise in materials chemistry and LED fabrication and will design the dental tray. McFarland, a chemistry professor at Acadia University, will create the paste made from plant extracts.

“Hardy plants are a great place to look for a bioactive compound,” she said. “They are able to grow in a variety of places under a wide range of conditions specifically because they contain such compounds.”

Clinical studies on the new product will begin this year and Fenol Farms will seek regulatory approval by the end of 2015. Release in Canada is planned for 2017 followed by a U.S. launch a year later.

Photo source:

Copyright 2014, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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