(HealthCentersOnline) - A recent study showed that a compound in common antacids may help prevent gingivitis.
Gingivitis, which is inflammation or swelling of the gums, is the mildest and most common form of periodontal disease, or gum disease. Gingivitis sometimes, but not always, worsens into a more severe form of periodontal disease called periodontitis. Over time, periodontitis can lead to the destruction of gum and bone tissue, which may eventually cause the teeth supported by that periodontal tissue to fall out or have to be pulled.
Dental plaque is home to hundreds of bacteria. In addition to causing tooth decay, some of these bacteria contribute to gum disease. One type in particular, Fusobacterium nucleatum, assists other bacteria in adhering to the teeth and penetrating beneath the gum line.
Researchers studied lansoprazole, a compound in benzimidazoles. Benzimidazoles are antacids, used primarily for treating gastroesophageal reflux, reducing stomach acidity and killing the bacteria that causes peptic ulcers.
When oral bacteria are causing damage to the teeth and gums, the environment in the mouth becomes acidic. This acidic environment prompts lansoprazole to become active. Once activated, lansoprazole disables F. nucleatum, preventing both the damage the bacterium causes directly and that of the bacteria it assists. When the oral environment returns to normal, lansoprazole deactivates.
"Benzimidazoles aren't just for acid-reflux anymore," said Dr. Robert Marquis of the University of Rochester Medical Center, in a recent press release. "We've shown their promise for preventing cavities in previous research, and now, perhaps even some protective benefits to guard against gingivitis. It's not unthinkable that one day these compounds might be more broadly used to promote dental health in toothpastes and mouthwashes."
Copyright 2000-2006 HealthCentersOnline, Inc.