As Eugene dentist Dr. Rita Feldmanis tells her patients, the mouth connects to the body in ways not always that obvious. For example, decades worth of research has shown that individuals who develop tooth decay and gum disease have a significantly higher risk for developing a range of chronic health conditions that include heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and stroke. While the exact mechanism that connects poor oral health to these types of systemic disease remains unclear, researchers do know that harmful oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream, travel throughout the body, and cause trouble wherever it lands.
Early research has suggested that by treating a patient’s gum disease or tooth loss, doctors can help their patients better control or even treat conditions like diabetes, dementia, and heart disease. This just further demonstrates that the mouth/body connection goes two ways, and that by keeping the mouth healthy the body stays healthy.
Considering this connection, it’s not surprising that researchers are also discovering that certain types of medication meant for the body can also help to treat the mouth. A nanoparticle-solution used for treating anemia significantly reduced the buildup of dental plaque while also suppressing tooth decay, according to the results of a new study. This study marks the first time researchers have shown that nanoparticles offer a therapeutic option for tooth decay in humans.
A New Use for an Old Medication
When the ferumoxytol iron oxide nanoparticles (FerlONT), an FDA-approved medication for the treatment of anemia, and hydrogen peroxide were used in model of human disease, the combination was found to possess potent antimicrobial properties against a type of bacteria most commonly associated with the development of gum disease and tooth decay.
Current clinical and antimicrobial approaches have had limited effectiveness against the biofilms that cause tooth decay. This has led researchers to look for alternative treatment options, such as the FerlONT and hydrogen peroxide combination, that can target oral bacteria while leaving healthy bacteria that grows naturally in the mouth alone.
Preventing the buildup of plaque is the biggest challenge Dr. Rita Feldmanis’ patients face when it comes to protecting their oral health. What makes plaque so challenging is that not only does it cling to the surface of patients’ teeth, it’s also incredibly resistant to most types of medications. The whole reason people need to brush is because plaque must be physically removed from their teeth. Otherwise, a simple rinse would be all that’s needed to remove plaque from the mouth.
By finding a treatment option that can break down plaque while leaving other types of beneficial bacteria in the mouth alone, researchers hope to revolutionize how people take care of their oral health.
Promising Study Results
To further explore the effectiveness of this new treatment option, the researchers asked 15 participants to wear removable, denture-like devices that had actual tooth enamel attached. The participants were then divided into three groups. One group fully applied the FerlONT solution twice a day, followed by a hydrogen peroxide rinse. The second group applied a solution containing inactive FerlONT, and the final groups applied only water.
The study participants also applied a sugar solution to their oral device four times a day. They were instructed to rinse the device twice a day, but not to brush.
After a two-week trial period, the research team analyzed the biofilm that developed on the surface of the denture-like devices. The combination of FerlONT and hydrogen peroxide significantly reduced the growth of plaque and harmful bacteria. The research team found that the solution was highly effective at targeting harmful bacteria and in breaking down plaque. Perhaps most encouraging of all, the solution did not impact healthy bacteria in the mouth.
Dr. Rita Feldmanis is Here to Help Protect Your Oral Health
As research continues to find new and exciting ways of working to protect long-term oral health, Dr. Rita Feldmanis will continue to provide the type of exceptional dental care her patients deserve. While medical breakthroughs promise healthier smiles in the future, don’t neglect the need to take care of your teeth and gums today. Contact our office to schedule your next appointment with Dr. Feldmanis.