In a study published in Science Advances, researchers have found that a certain type of protein found in the saliva of mice can help prevent gum disease. The protein, known as LL-37, was found to reduce the inflammation and bone loss associated with periodontitis, a common form of gum disease. This is exciting news for the millions of people who suffer from gum disease, as there is currently no cure. However, this research is still in its early stages and has only been conducted on mice. Human trials will be necessary to confirm its efficacy. If you are one of the many people suffering from gum disease, there is hope on the horizon. This new research offers a promising potential solution that may help you finally get your oral health back on track.
Gum disease is a progressive condition that can affect your teeth and jaw. Untreated gum disease can eventually lead to tooth decay and the loss of bone in your jaw. Treatments are painful and invasive, so many people never bother to get them. Antibiotics are often prescribed, but they kill off both helpful and harmful bacteria in the mouth.
Though gum disease affects nearly 50% of the world’s population, it is largely under control. A New York University study has developed an oral gel that inhibits a key driver of the condition. So far, they’ve been performing well in mice.
One study shows that the compound in the gel is an antagonist of succinate. It is an inefficient byproduct of human and bacterial cell metabolism that NYU team and others linked to gum disease and bone loss. Previously, researchers found that succinate levels were higher in diseased samples than in healthy ones.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a serious infection of the gums that can lead to tooth loss. It is caused by a build-up of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Plaque can harden into tartar, which can irritate the gums and cause inflammation. If the inflammation is not treated, it can progress to gum disease.
Gum disease is usually painless in its early stages. However, as it progresses, symptoms may include red, swollen, or bleeding gums; receding gums; bad breath; and loose teeth. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your dentist as soon as possible.
Gum disease can be treated with a deep cleaning (also called scaling and root planing). This involves removing the plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat gum disease.
With proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits, you can help prevent gum disease. Be sure to brush twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride, floss daily, and eat a balanced diet. Avoid smoking, which increases your risk for gum disease
Research on Mice
According to a new study, research on mice has shown that a certain type of gum disease can be prevented.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Zurich, found that a specific type of gum disease known as periodontitis can be prevented by a protein known as MMP-20.
MMP-20 is a protein that is responsible for breaking down connective tissue in the body. In periodontitis, this protein breaks down the connective tissue between the teeth and the gums, which can lead to tooth loss.
The researchers found that by inhibiting MMP-20, they were able to prevent periodontitis in mice. They hope that this finding will lead to new treatments for gum disease in humans.
A life-extending drug on mice could be used to reverse age-related dental problems, according to a new study published today in eLife.
Gum disease is common in adults over the age of 65, and it often causes painful inflammation, bone loss, and changes to the mouth’s good bacteria. Despite this need, treatments are nonexistent. However, scientists have found that treatments targeting the aging process might help.
Rapamycin is an immune-suppressing drug used for transplantation. Previous studies in mice showed that the drug might have life-extending effects, which led to interest in studying its effects on a variety of age-related diseases.
To investigate the benefits of rapamycin in mice, An and his colleagues fed the drug to middle-aged mice for 8 weeks. The teeth and gingiva of these animals were then analyzed alongside untreated aged mice. Similar to humans, aged mice also experience bone loss, inflammation, and shifts in oral bacteria.
Using a 3D-imaging technique called micro-computed tomography, the team measured the periodontal bone, or bone around the tooth, of mice treated with rapamycin and those that weren’t. They found that the raapmacyin-treated mice had more bone than their untreated counterparts. In addition, they actually built new bone during the time they were receiving rapamycin.
Rapamycin-treated mice showed lower levels of gum inflammation. They had fewer bacteria that are associated with gum disease, and a mix of oral bacteria more like those found in healthy young mice.
Linking Gum Disease to Succinic Acid
For their research, the scientists first examined dental plaque samples from humans and blood samples from mice. Using metabolomics analyses, they found higher levels of succinic acid in humans and mice with gum disease when compared to those who had healthy gums. This confirmed what previous studies have revealed.
First, they saw that the succinate receptor was expressed in human and mouse gums. To test this connection, they then genetically altered mice to inactivate the succinate receptor. This revealed that the succinate receptor is necessary for gum health, by providing citrate. Disruption of the succinate receptor caused decreased bone density and loss of rachidian tooth structures.
In mice with gum disease, there was decreased inflammation in both gums and the blood. Additionally, there was less bone loss. The researchers also found different bacteria in their mouths: gum diseased mice had a greater imbalance of bacteria than healthy mice.
After administering extra succinate to both types of mice, the researchers found that it worsened gum disease in normal mice but protected against inflammation, the growth of unhealthy bacteria, and bone loss in “knockout” mice.
Researchers found that “mice without active succinate receptors were more resilient to disease,” and that elevated succinate and succinate receptor are major drivers of gum disease.
How this Applies to Humans
The findings of this study are very exciting because they suggest that we may be able to use a similar approach to prevent gum disease in humans. This is a very common condition that can lead to tooth loss, and it is estimated that over half of adults in the United States have some form of gum disease.
While more research is needed to confirm these findings, this study provides hope that we may one day be able to prevent or treat gum disease in humans using a similar approach as was used in this study.
There are a few different ways that you can prevent gum disease in mice, and these include:
- Proper oral hygiene – This means keeping your mouse’s teeth clean and free of debris. You can do this by brushing their teeth regularly with a tiny soft-bristled toothbrush, and using dental floss to remove any plaque or tartar build-up.
- Avoiding sugary foods and drinks – Sugar is one of the main culprits behind gum disease so it’s important to limit your mouse’s intake of sugary foods and drinks.
- Giving them regular dental check-ups – Just like humans, it’s important to take your mouse for regular dental check-ups so that any problems can be caught early and treated accordingly.
The first step in treating gum disease is to remove the bacteria that are causing the infection. This can be done by scaling and root planing, which is a deep cleaning of the teeth below the gum line. In some cases, antibiotics may also be prescribed to help clear the infection.
Once the infection has been cleared, it is important to take steps to prevent it from coming back. This includes regular brushing and flossing, as well as keeping up with routine dental appointments. If you have a history of gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings or other preventive treatments.
Gel-treated mice had significant changes to the bacteria in their mouths. Notably, those in the Bacteroidetes family–which include pathogens known to be dominant in gum disease–were depleted.
The researchers are continuing to study the gel in animal models to find the appropriate dosage and timing for application. They want to determine any toxicity, too. Their long-term goal is to develop a gel that can be used at home by people who have gum disease or are at risk for developing it.
Dr. Xin Li, a professor of molecular pathobiology at NYU Dentistry and the study’s lead author, commented that “Current treatments for severe gum disease can be invasive and painful. In the case of antibiotics, which may help temporarily, they kill both good and bad bacteria; this disruption of the oral microbiome has clear therapeutic value for treating gum disease.”
This study is groundbreaking in that it provides evidence that a potential gum disease prevention method actually works in mice. Although more research needs to be done to confirm these findings in humans, this study offers hope for those who suffer from gum disease or are at risk for developing it. If you are struggling with gum disease, talk to your dentist about potential treatments and preventative measures you can take to improve your oral health.