Nowadays a cosmetic dentist can help to address a variety of dental issues such as dull, discoloured teeth or teeth that are out of alignment and in need of straightening out.
However, one of the more common issues many people face when it comes to their teeth is the risk of periodontal or gum disease. If the disease is left untreated for too long, it can lead to serious consequences such as tooth and bone loss, requiring dental implants or other restorative measures.
Currently, treatment for periodontitis involves scraping dental plaque off the teeth. However, the plaque can often grow back, requiring more visits to the dentist.
A new study has tackled the problem in an innovative way by using a drug called Oxantel, which is typically used to treat intestinal worms. In animal tests, the drug was shown to inhibit the growth of plaque by obstructing the enzyme used in the formation of the bacteria.
The secret lies in a discovery the researchers made during the study. They found the polymicrobial biofilm which makes up dental plaque needed iron and a molecule called heme to grow.
Restricting these substances reduced the amount of the enzyme called fumarate reductase, found in bacteria from plaque. Oxantel had previously been shown to reduce the enzyme in other bacteria, leading the researchers to successfully apply it in the case of dental plaque.
Additionally, the study also revealed Oxantel helped to inhibit the growth of other common periodontal biofilms such as P. gingivalis, Tannerella forsythia and Treponema denticola.
If used in dental practice, the drug could have powerful effects on periodontitis patients. According to study author Eric Reynolds of the University of Melbourne, the condition affects between 30 and 47 per cent of the adult population, and it can also increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and dementia.