PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 20, 2012 Scientists are trying to open a new front in the battle against gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and sometimes termed the most serious oral health problem of the 21st century. They described another treatment approach for the condition in a report here today at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
"Our technology uses controlled-release capsules filled with a protein that would be injected in the pockets between the gums and the teeth," said Steven Little, Ph.D., who reported on the research. "That's ground-zero for periodontal disease ― 'gum disease' ― the place where bacteria breed and inflammation occurs. The capsules dissolve over time, releasing a protein that acts as a homing beacon. It guides immune cells to the diseased area, reducing inflammation, creating an environment that fights the disease process and even could create conditions favorable for gum tissue to regrow."
Little and colleagues, who are with the University of Pittsburgh, have evidence from laboratory experiments with mice ― stand-ins for humans in early research of this kind that cannot be done with actual patients ― that the approach does foster healing and regrowth of gum tissue damaged by periodontal disease.
A bacterial infection causes periodontal disease. It first appears as mild tenderness and bleeding of the gums. It leads to inflammation and, if left untreated, can damage the gums so that they recede and lose their attachment to the teeth. It may progress even further and damage bone and other tissues that hold teeth firmly in place. Surprisingly, gum disease has a number of deleterious effects outside the mouth, with some studies linking inflammation in the gums to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and preterm delivery in pregnant women.
Treatment includes scali
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