People have attempted to treat gum disease for thousands of years. In fact, ancient Greek scholars such as Aristotle and Hippocrates both wrote about dentistry, recommending treatments for gum disease such as using wires to stabilize loose teeth and fractured jaws. Even the Ancient Egyptian’s medical texts referred to recipes of various mouthwashes or mixtures that included beer, bran and celery to fight against periodontitis. But researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have come up with a 21st century treatment that involves introducing immune cells directly to inflamed gum tissue. This is great news for the 78 million Americans that currently suffer from tooth loss and gum issues.
The standard of care across the US is to treat red, inflamed and sensitive gums by removing bacterial deposits with a regimen of daily brushing, flossing and periodic deep cleaning otherwise known as scaling and root planning (usually with local anesthetic) as well as gum surgery to provide access for cleaning as well as reattachment of gum tissue to tooth roots. This procedure mechanically removes calculus and tartar (calcified bacterial deposits) from above and below the gum line. Antibiotics specific to disease causing bacteria are also used in an attempt to manage the microbe infection under the gums. However, this study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences introduced a new methodology in the treatment of gum disease.
According to Dr. Charles Sfeir, DDS, PhD, and associate professor of Periodontics and Oral Biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, traditional treatments focus on removing bacteria and contaminated tooth surfaces from under the gums. This study was aimed at investigating the immune system, which is the body’s way of aggressively responding to the presence of oral bacteria.
In a healthy mouth a balance exists between bacteria and a person’s immune system response that prevents infections. But for many people, an overgrowth of oral bacteria results in a continuous response from their immune system that results in red, swollen and infected gums as it continually eradicates bacteria from attacking gum tissue.
Previous studies have revealed that diseased gum tissues are deficient in regulatory immune cells or T-cells. These T-cells are important in mediating the inflammatory response. According to the researchers, they were interested in what response they would receive if they brought these immune cells back and applied them directly to the inflamed gums.
For the animal study, researchers created polymer microspheres that slowly release a chemokine, or signaling protein, which is a class of cytokines that specifically attract white blood cells to sites of infection. Researchers placed tiny doses of this paste between the gums and teeth of animals with periodontal disease. The result was a reduction in pocket depth, inflammation and gum bleeding. Micro-CT scanning also showed decreased rates of bone loss.
Remains from ancient Egypt revealed evidence that scaling and root planing was used to manage infected gums. But now we not only have improved techniques and vastly improved knowledge, we have additional methods and procedures that could potentially correct the immune imbalance that causes the condition to initially develop. Combined with professional debridement and cleaning, daily hygiene procedures such as brushing and flossing, we may have finally found a way to prevent the devastating consequences of periodontal disease for good.
Let us at Dr. Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD, PC and our team of skilled dental experts provide you with the best available dental care. Kind, compassionate and intelligent dental attention can make all the difference in your self-confidence and oral health. From Royal Oak to West Bloomfield to Southfield, MI, we’re all proud to serve our community. Call today and find out what a great dentist and a great dental health team can do for you and your family. Discover the difference a great dentist can make!
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790