Gum disease – which attacks the bone and gums that support teeth – will affect up to 70 per cent of North American adults during their lifetime. But a new oral rinse developed by Professor Michael Glogauer at University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry could help identify those at risk. In trials, the quick-acting rinse allowed periodontists to count the number of infection-fighting white blood cells, called oral neutrophils, in patients’ mouths. When present in higher-than-average numbers, these neutrophils cause damage to bone and gum tissue.
Glogauer administered the rinse to both healthy patients and those with periodontal disease. He found that patients with periodontal disease had higher levels of oral neutrophils, but these levels declined among the patients who were successfully treated. “Patients who responded well to treatment had a 43 per cent reduction, while those who responded poorly showed no significant changes,” he says. “This non-invasive, painless oral rinse is an excellent research tool,” says Glogauer, “and we hope that dentists will one day use it to quickly identify patients at risk for bone and gum destruction.”