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Proposed treatment method could change the way dentists treat periodontitis, gum disease


In an article in the science journal Molecular Medicine, researchers from the University of Louisville in Kentucky recently reported that they have developed a new treatment procedure for combatting gum disorders like gingivitis and periodontitis.

The team, led by Dr. David Scott, sought to move away from traditional methods that target plaque buildups on the sides of teeth that patients are unable to remove with regular oral care treatments like brushing and flossing. Instead, they focused on the body's natural ability to cause inflammation as an immune system response. An enzyme produced in the body, known as GSK3b, creates a biological signal that attracts white blood cells, triggering the swelling.

"The traditional approach to dealing with periodontal disease is to prevent plaque from forming at the gum-line or prevent the consequences of periodontal disease progression," Scott, also the principal author of the study, said in a statement. "Our approach manipulates a natural mechanism within our bodies to prevent inflammation and subsequent degradation when exposed to the bacterium P. gingivalis."

Specifically, the treatment prohibits the production of the enzyme, stopping it before it can cause the natural reaction. The inflammation that results from periodontal diseases can result in gum decay, decrease circulation in the body and tooth loss, as well as significant levels of pain and an overall drop in the quality of life.

By performing this procedure, Scott and his team argued in the article, oral care professionals could spend less time treating the symptoms of gingivitis and periodontitis and focus on curing the mouth of the bacterial infection.

While the proposed treatment could result in higher recovery rates and fewer teeth loss, prevention remains the best way to avoid this debilitating condition. Everyone should brush and floss every day, and make time during the year to visit an affordable dental care provider.