The Potential Benefits of Better Dental Plaque Control

Improved control over plaque and unwanted bacteria in the mouth could improve long-term health. There is a demonstrated link between dental plaque, consequent gum disease, and whole-body inflammation. Higher levels of inflammation raise the risk of suffering heart disease and other conditions: chronic inflammation speeds the development and progression of all of the common age-related diseases. Thus any large improvement in everyday dental technology should also slightly slow the pace of degenerative aging via a reduction in inflammation. The results reported here are a very modest example of this type of progress, nothing to get too excited about: it is more in the way of a suggested change in the culture and methodology of brushing teeth. The researchers take an approach used by dentists, staining plaque to make it easier to remove, and package it for everyday use. Nonetheless, even something as simple as that can make some difference to inflammation. Consider this as a reminder to pay attention to the march of technology in this field, as the outcomes are relevant to much more than the health of teeth.

For decades, research has suggested a link between oral health and inflammatory diseases affecting the entire body - in particular, heart attacks and strokes. The results released today from a randomized trial of a novel plaque identifying toothpaste, show statistically significant reductions in dental plaque and inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation throughout the body is accurately measured by high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a sensitive marker for future heart attacks and strokes. In this trial, all randomized subjects were given the same brushing protocol and received a 60-day supply of toothpaste containing either the plaque-identifying toothpaste or an identical non-plaque identifying placebo toothpaste. To assess dental plaque, all subjects utilized a fluorescein mouth rinse, and intraoral photographs were taken under black light imaging. For hs-CRP, levels were measured by an independent laboratory using an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay.

"While the findings on reducing dental plaque extend a previous observation, the findings on decreasing inflammation are new and novel." This is the first toothpaste that reveals plaque so that it can be removed with directed brushing. In addition, the product contains unique combinations and concentrations of cleaning agents that weaken the core of the plaque structure to help the subject visualize and more effectively remove the plaque. Based on these findings, researchers are drafting an investigator initiated research grant proposal to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This large scale randomized trial will test whether the toothpaste reduces risks of heart attacks and strokes.


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