March 22 (UPI) -- Almost half of people in the United States under age 30 have periodontal disease, which can cause tooth loss or worse health outcomes, new findings show. Now, a new treatment could help fix that problem.
The new method, outlined in a study published Thursday in ACS Nano, uses biological and mechanical features to help regenerate bone and gum tissue.
"Given the current disadvantages with guided tissue regeneration, we saw the need to develop a new class of membranes, which have tissue and bone regeneration properties along with a flexible coating that can adhere to a range of biological surfaces," Alireza Moshaverinia, an assistant professor at the UCLA School of Dentistry and study co-lead author, said in a news release. "We've also figured out a way to prolong the drug delivery timeline, which is key for effective wound healing."
Periodontitis disease inflames gums that surround teeth, which creates infected pockets that cause bone erosion and tooth loss.
To treat the condition, the researchers surgically implanted a thin, film-like membrane between the inflamed gum and tooth. This membrane blocks the infection from the gums and delivers antibiotics, medication and growth factors to the gum tissue.
Some studies have linked Periodontitis to heart disease and Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers tested their new membrane method by injecting rats with gingival-derived human stem cells and human periodontal ligament stem cells. After eight weeks of observing erosion, they applied their membrane, an FDA-approved polymer coated with polydopamine, which speeds up bone regeneration.
"We've determined that our membranes were able to slow down periodontal infection, promote bone and tissue regeneration, and stay in place long enough to prolong the delivery of useful drugs," Moshaverinia said. "We see this application expanding beyond periodontitis treatment to other areas needing expedited wound healing and prolonged drug delivery therapeutics."