New Research Could Lead to Effective Gum Disease Treatment

gumsScientists at biomedical research institute Forsyth, along with a Northwestern University colleague, have discovered that Transgultaminase 2 (TG2), a protein that’s widely distributed both outside and inside of human cells, is a key part of gum diseases process. By blocking some of TG2’s associations, the scientists were able to keep Porphyromonas gingivalis (PG) from cleaving to cells.

The reason this discovery is so exciting is because it could potentially lead to therapies that prevent PG caused gum diseases.

Periodontal gum disease affects approximately 65 million Americans, making it one of the most common infectious diseases. Periodontitis, its most severe form, can also be particularly dangerous. This infection will damage soft tissues in the mouth, and eventually cause the afflicted to lose bone in the areas that support the teeth. Worse, it can also increase a person’s risk of stroke, heart attack, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, and other serious problems.

“Once established, Porphyromonas gingivalis is very hard to get rid of” said Dr. Heiki Boisvert, who led the study. “The bacterium changes conditions in the surrounding environment to ensure perfect growth; unfortunately, those changes, if untreated, can result in a loss of supportive tissue for our teeth.”

The current medical method of treating periodontal gum disease is to control the infection. Depending on the extent of the disease, the types and number of dental treatments will differ. All treatments, though, mandate that the patient practices a high level of daily care. For more severe cases, dentists may prescribe medications or suggest surgery.

“One out of every five people a day have some form of periodontal disease, which can be prevented by flossing daily, and seeing your dental hygienist at least once every six months for a professional cleaning,” explains Dr. C Michael Sage Jr., D.D.S. at Alaska Center for Dentistry.  

Some treatments may require scaling and root planing, which are deep cleaning plaque removal methods. Scaling scrapes the tartar off above and below the gum line, and root planing eradicates the areas on the tooth root where germs will congregate. These procedures could result in less discomfort, bleeding and swelling than other deep cleaning treatments.

The research’s next phase will examine TG2-knockout mice, testing their susceptibility to periodontal disease and PG infections.

Dr. Boisvert says, “The more we know about the relationship of PG with us, the host, the better we can work on how to prevent disease and disease progression.”