Nearly half of adults over 30 have gum disease, so dentists like Dr. Dhiraj Sharma focus on both treating and preventing gum disease. In fact, dentists may soon have another tool in this fight. However, the NYU College of Dentistry recently developed a topical gel that may also be a good option.
How Do We Currently Treat Gum Disease?
Before exploring the topical gel, consider the current treatment for gum disease. Common methods include the use of antibiotics and surgery, with scaling and root planing as the most common treatments. If that doesn’t work, surgical options include bone and tissue grafting, tissue regeneration, and flap surgery.
How the Gel Works
The topical gel developed by a team led by Dr. Yuqi Guo targets and blocks the receptor for succinate. This is a molecule that our bodies naturally produce during metabolism. In previous research, Dr. Guo and his team found that patients with periodontitis (gum disease) have higher succinate levels. They found that higher succinate levels activated the succinate receptor. That, in turn, stimulates bone loss and inflammation. So, the team decided to see if targeting the receptor could improve oral health outcomes.
Results of the Study
In a lab, scientists applied the topical gel to human gum cells. They also applied it to mice with gum disease and noticed that gum inflammation and bone loss were reduced. This was observed at the spot where the gel was applied and overall.
They applied the gel daily to mice with gum disease for four weeks. Doing so reduced bone loss by 50%. Those mice also had reduced inflammation. There were also changes to the bacteria in their mouths.
What’s Next in Testing
While the topical gel shows promise, Dr. Guo and his team need to conduct further testing. The next step is to check its effectiveness in non-human primates. They also need to run toxicity tests to confirm that it is safe to use. Before making the gel readily available to the public, it would also need to go through randomized clinical trials in humans. This would include comparing it with current periodontal treatment.
The Ultimate Goal
The team hopes to create gel and oral strips that people can eventually use at home. They also hope to create a stronger slow-release formula that dentists can apply. Also, the team hopes to have a product that works on humans and our furry friends.
In the future, you may be able to apply strips or a topical gel to your mouth to prevent and treat gum disease. The potential topical gel treatment still needs to undergo several more rounds of testing to confirm that it is safe and effective. Don’t expect to see it at the store or your dentist’s office anytime soon. For now, the best prevention is good oral hygiene, with the most common treatments being root planing and scaling. You can visit your dentist inYour dentist can give you more advice for gum health and offer various treatment options if you develop gum disease.