Light-activated therapy may curb tooth disease
People suffering from periodontal disease that leads to gum inflammation, bone erosion and loosening of teeth, currently undergo a variety of treatments to keep the condition in check. One day, if animal experiments hold up, they may be helped by a light-activated therapy.
"Photodynamic" therapy, as the name implies, makes use of an agent that is activated by shining a strong light on it, so that it works at the site where it's needed.
Researchers from Brazil report in the Journal of Periodontology that a form of photodynamic therapy slows the progression of experimentally induced periodontal disease in rats, at least transiently.
In their experiments, Dr. Valdir Gouveia Garcia from Sao Paulo State University and colleagues divided 120 rats with induced periodontal disease into four groups of 30, and tested the effects of a compound called methylene blue on the disease. Methylene blue is a photosensitizer that can get inside germs and kill them, too some extent without light but more powerfully when activated by light.
One group of rats got no treatment; another group had only methylene blue applied to the teeth; a third group got low-level laser therapy only; and the remainder, the photodynamic therapy group, were treated with a combination of methylene blue and low-intensity laser light.
After 5 days, X-rays showed significantly less bone loss in the photodynamic therapy group of animals compared to those that got no treatment, the team reports. After 15 days, significantly reduced bone loss was seen in the photodynamic therapy group compared with the no-treatment and laser-only groups.
After 30 days, however, there were no significant differences in bone loss between any of the groups.
Although the experiments were intended to see if photodynamic therapy might be useful as an add-on to other treatments, "the results suggested that photodynamic therapy transiently reduced periodontal tissue destruction," Garcia and colleagues write.
"This is an exciting finding," Dr. Preston D. Miller, Jr., president of the American Academy of Periodontology, who was not involved in the research, said in a statement. "Photodynamic therapy could prove to be a preferable alternative to antibiotic therapy."
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