Recent research has shown that a class of medicines typically used for heartburn have an unexpected benefit of decreasing the severity of gum disease. The findings could result in a new intervention for gum disease, and could greatly assist with oral health.
Gum disease continues to be a debilitating condition for many people. Statistics show that approximately 90% of the world’s population has a form of gum disease .
Therefore, any event or research that shows promise in treating gum disease is met with excitement.
Recent research from the University at Buffalo suggests that a class of medicines called Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) could decrease the severity of gum disease.
Healthy gums are meant to fit comfortably with the teeth. However, harmful bacteria causes the gap to widen, which eventually leads to inflammation, bone loss and gum disease .
Therefore, finding ways of treating gum disease continue to be a priority for researchers.
What are Proton Pump Inhibitors?
Proton Pump Inhibitors are a class of drugs used to treat heartburn, acid reflux and stomach ulcers. They are among the 10 most frequently prescribed drugs in the US .
Proton pumps are small substances in the lining of the stomach which help to make acid to digest food. PPIs stop proton pumps from working, which reduces the amount of acid the stomach makes .
PPIs are heavily-researched medicines and are commonly prescribed. Therefore, new research directions are uncommon. But researchers looked into the relationship of PPIs and oral health, leading to surprising results.
Researchers at the University at Buffalo completed their study and published it in the Clinical and Experimental Dental Research journal .
The study hoped to find out whether a relationship existed between PPI use and gum disease . The researchers used clinical data from over 1,000 patients.
To measure gum disease, the researchers used the gap between gum and teeth – known as “probing depths”. A probing depth of around 6mm can be indicative of gum disease .
The researchers then compared the data of those who took PPIs against those who didn’t. Consequently, they then reached conclusions based on their data.
The results found that out of patients who used PPIs, on average, only 14% of teeth had probing depths of 6mm or more . This compared to an average score of 24% for those who didn’t take PPIs .
There were similar results for other probing depths. The sizeable difference led to researchers concluding that PPIs had a positive impact on gum disease.
What the results of the research mean
These results are of great value to researchers. Due to the number of people who have gum disease, such information can potentially lead to another line of treatment to be offered. This would be an excellent advancement.
Lisa Yerke, of the University at Buffalo, attempted to explain these results. She said that she believed the results were due to the side effects of PPIs . These effects include an ability to change bone metabolism and the gut microbiome.
Yerke suggested that PPIs could “be used in combination with other periodontal treatments” . However, she cautioned that further studies would need to take place to confirm this.
Yerke said that additional studies are already underway to see if these findings are consistent with larger datasets . But the findings of the research are an exciting development.
However, it should be noted that PPIs aren’t an entirely positive medicine. Another study found that long-term use of PPIs was associated with an increased risk of dental implant failure .
What we offer at Taradale Dental
We are a dental clinic that cares deeply about our patients. As a result, we are ensuring that our staff are being educated on clefts. Therefore, we will be able to provide optimum oral healthcare for any patient with a cleft.
Any dental problem should be addressed early, and can be identified at check-ups. This helps to prevent the problem getting worse. So, when further treatment is needed after a check-up, we provide our patients with a clear treatment plan.
The best way of avoiding extra treatment is to have strong oral hygiene. This includes brushing our teeth at least twice a day, flossing regularly, and getting a dental check-up at least twice a year. Avoiding sugary foods and drink and not smoking also helps.
 Pihlstrom, B. L., Michalowicz, B. S., & Johnson, N. W. (2005). Periodontal diseases. Lancet. 366 (9499), p1809-1820.
 Aghaloo, T., Pi-Anfruns, J., Moshaverinia, A., Sim, D., Grogan, T., & Hadaya, D. (2019). The effects of systemic diseases and medications on implant osseointegration: A systematic review. The International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Implants. 34: s35–s49.
 NHS. (2021). Lansoprazole. Available: https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/lansoprazole/. Last accessed: 16th October 2021.
 Chawla, B. K., Cohen, R. E., & Yerke, L. M. (2021). Association between proton pump inhibitors and periodontal disease severity. Clincial and Experimental Dental Research. Pre-publication online version: https://doi.org/10.1002/cre2.495.
 University at Buffalo. (2021). Study finds that heartburn drugs may provide unexpected benefits for those with gum disease. Available: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-10-heartburn-drugs-unexpected-benefits-gum.html. Last accessed: 16th October 2021.
 Chrcanovic, B. R., Kisch, J., Albrektsson, T., & Wennerberg, A. (2017). Intake of Proton Pump Inhibitors Is Associated with an Increased Risk of Dental Implant Failure. International Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Implants. 32 (5): p1097-1102.