Researchers at the University of California Irvine’s Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic recently reported results of a six-month long study, published in the Journal of Periodontology, showing for the first time that a novel toothpaste demonstrated significant improvements in the health of the gums of patients with periodontitis.1
Gum disease affects 65-million Americans today (almost half of Americans adults over 30 years of age). New research is also showing that COVID-19 patients with gum disease were almost nine times more likely to die compared to those without gum disease.2 They were also 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care, 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator.Gum disease may also play a role in what is now being referred to as “long COVID,” a range of symptoms that can last weeks or months after first initial infection, among them periodontal problems and tooth loss.
Furthermore, a study in the Journal of Periodontology found that severe gum disease (periodontitis) is highest among ethnic minorities (63.5% of Hispanic, 59.1% of African American, and 50% of Asian Americans).3 In other words, severe gum disease could be a contributing factor to high risk of COVID-related complications and deaths, especially in ethnic communities.
As a part of her focus on translational research, Dr. Petra Wilder Smith initiated a double-blinded study testing a novel dental gel against an FDA-approved ant-gingivitis toothpaste to investigate their effects on gum health in patients with early to moderate periodontitis. The six-month long study compared how the two toothpastes affected periodontal pocket depths, gingival inflammation, and gum bleeding in patients with periodontitis who were in maintenance care.
The findings revealed that subjects who brushed with the novel toothpaste (LivFresh Dental Gel, formerly known as Livionex) experienced clinically and statistically significant improvements in their symptoms versus the control group that brushed with an over-the-counter, FDA-approved antiplaque, antigingivitis toothpaste.
Several previous laboratory and clinical studies by Wilder-Smith’s group have demonstrated that the novel formulation retards on a molecular level dental plaque formation, attachment, and reaccumulation at the tooth surface by increasing its negative charge. The charged surface prevents early individual plaque islands from coalescing into larger deposits, discourages plaque from attaching to the tooth surface and supports the breakup of existing plaque deposits. Thus, by inhibiting dental plaque, the novel formulation reduces the presence of bacteria and their toxic by-products that are implicated in chronic gum disease.
In individuals who brushed with the test gel, pocket depths in the gums improved in more than 80% of diseased sites. Additionally, subjects who brushed with the new formulation had 2.5 times less gum inflammation and 1.9 times less gum bleeding, when compared to the group using the conventional toothpaste. Larger and longer studies are now in progress to solidify these findings.
- Kaur M, Geurs NC, Cobb CM, et al. Evaluating efficacy of a novel dentifrice in reducing probing depths in stage I and II periodontitis maintenance patients: A randomized, double-blind, positive controlled clinical trial. J Periodontol. 2020 Dec 17. doi: 10.1002/JPER.20-0721
- Marouf N, Cai W, Said KN, et al. Association between periodontitis and severity of COVID-19 infection: A case-control study. J Clin Periodontol. 2021 Feb 1:10.1111/jcpe.13435. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.13435
- Eke PI, Dye BA, Wei L, et al. Update on prevalence of periodontitis in adults in the United States: NHANES 2009 to 2012. J Periodontol. 2015;86(5):611-22. doi: 10.1902/jop.2015.140520
With experience across start-ups, venture capital, and banking, HIRSH GOSWAMY is the head of marketing for Livionex, a specialty pharmaceutical company that develops health-care products based on proprietary technology that addresses the role of metals in the human body. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley.