Researchers have designed controlled-release capsules that can be injected between the gums and the teeth, where bacteria breed and inflammation occurs. The capsules contain a protein that was found to reduce inflammation symptoms significantly and induce regrowth of gum tissue in initial laboratory tests with mice.

While conventional treatment approaches like tooth scaling and root planing in combination with antibiotics are targeted at the bacteria accumulated in the gum pockets, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh pursue an entirely different approach. “Although bacteria start the disease, inflammation is what keeps it going and causes progressive damage,” said Dr. Steven Little, associate professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and immunology at the university, where the research was carried out.

Once the capsules are injected, their plastic-like polymer material dissolves and they release the protein chemokine that summons lymphocytes, specialized white blood cells, to the gum pockets. According to Little, chemokine acts as a homing beacon. “It guides immune cells to the diseased area, reducing inflammation, creating an environment that fights the disease process and could even create conditions favorable for gum tissue to regrow,” he explained.

According to the researchers, these cells were previously kept away from the gum in order to block inflammation from occurring in the first place but, as Little pointed out, “a certain level of natural inflammation is required to fight off an infection.”

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, up to 30 percent of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. The organization estimates that these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease, which is scientifically associated with tooth loss but also increased risk of heart disease, stroke and preterm delivery in women.

The findings were presented at the American Chemical Society’s 244th national meeting on Aug. 20 in Philadelphia, Pa.

Original Source: Dental Tribune

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