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A world-first vaccine developed by Melbourne scientists, which could eliminate or at least reduce the need for surgery and antibiotics for severe gum disease, has been validated by research published this weekend in a leading international journal.

Around 2,700 Victorian children aged 0-­6 years are hospitalised each year for preventable dental conditions — most of them requiring treatment of dental decay under general anaesthetic.

Scientists at the University of Melbourne’s Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre have warned about the damage sugar-free drinks can do to tooth enamel.