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News / November 21, 2007

New probiotic treatment approach for gum disease

by Guy Hiscott

A new study claims that the application of beneficial bacteria as an adjunct to traditional therapy may become a valid, non-antibiotic treatment approach for periodontitis.

The researchers in this small-scale animal study applied a mixture of beneficial bacteria after scaling and root planing (removal of bacterial plaque from the crown and root of the tooth surface), a concept called Guided Pocket Recolonization (GPR). The GPR approach could provide a valuable addition or alternative to antibiotic treatment options for periodontitis.

Published in the November issue of the Journal of Dental Research and funded by the US National Institute Dental and Craniofacial Research, this is the first study to test the concept of bacterial replacement therapy in the treatment of plaque-related periodontal disease.

The analysis of the data showed, on beagle dogs, that when beneficial bacteria were applied in periodontal pockets adjunctively after root planing, repopulation by bacteria associated with gum disease was delayed and reduced, as was the degree of inflammation, at a clinically significant level.

‘While this investigation provides a proof of concept that the application of beneficial bacteria may supplement traditional methods of periodontal therapy, additional studies are needed to determine how this concept can be applied in the clinical practice of periodontology,’ stated Wim Teughels, corresponding author and professor in the Department of Periodontology at Catholic University Leuven. ‘The principal investigator, Marc Quirynen, also a professor at Catholic University Leuven, and the international team behind this project are continuing investigations with a focus on testing beneficial bacteria that are both helpful and non-pathogenic to humans. We hope the current study will inspire other investigators to consider periodontal disease therapy from this novel perspective.’