Posted May 4, 2017
New Dental Vaccine Targets Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Periodontitis is a severe gum disease that affects people worldwide. The American Academy of Periodontology reports that 47.2 percent of Americans, or 64.7 million people, have mild, moderate or severe periodontitis. It’s considered an advanced form of periodontal disease that can cause teeth to become loose or result in bone or tooth loss. Typically, treatment includes professional cleanings, oral surgery and/or antibiotic medications. However, researchers in Melbourne, Australia, are working on a new vaccine that targets gingivitis and periodontitis gum disease, which could reduce or eliminate the need for traditional treatments.
Due to poor dental care, periodontitis has become a widespread problem. Sugars in foods and beverages form plaque on teeth. If plaque is not removed through twice-daily tooth brushing and once-daily flossing, it can combine with bacteria to attack mouth tissues and create a mild gum disease called gingivitis. Untreated gingivitis can develop into periodontitis.
Scheduling regular dental appointments for checkups and cleanings also is important to protect dental health. During the exam, the dentist will check your teeth and gums for signs of decay, gum disease and other problems. Early detection reduces the need for expensive dental treatments. Dental insurance helps cover the cost, especially since preventive care usually is covered. Find out more about the value of dental insurance.
Impact on health
Researchers discovered that periodontitis could contribute to the development of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, respiratory diseases, dementia, certain cancers, heart disease, and premature birth. Studies in Denmark show that periodontitis increases the risk of death for people with liver disease, called cirrhosis.
After 15 years of research, Melbourne scientists developed a vaccine designed to kill mouth bacteria in dental plaque that cause gum disease. Researchers say that while dental cleanings, oral surgery or antibiotics help treat gingivitis and periodontitis, the disease easily can reoccur due to lack of brushing and flossing. Now that researchers have tested the vaccine’s effectiveness in animals, beginning in 2018, they plan to start testing it on humans.