Periodontal or gum disease is an infection that causes bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth and teeth that fall out. A bacterial film called plaque that continuously forms around the teeth and gums causes gum disease. An estimated 56 million Americans suffer from gum disease, the main reason people lose their teeth.
The leading treatments for periodontal disease are scaling and root planing (deep cleaning of the gums) and surgical gum treatment in more advanced cases. Antibiotics are sometimes used in conjunction with these other therapies, often with the goal of killing bacteria that is causing the gum disease. Recently, there is a new drug, which focuses instead on controlling our body's reaction to these bacteria. The new drug is called Periostat®.
To understand how Periostat works, we need to have some understanding of how bacteria in the mouth cause the loss of gum tissue and bone around the teeth. Oral bacteria cause a chronic infection in the mouth of people with gum disease. This infection causes the body to release chemical substances called cytokines, which in turn cause a cascade of reactions within the gum and surrounding tissue. One of the substances released is a family of enzymes known as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). One of the MMPs is collagenase, an enzyme that breaks down the gum and bone.
Periostat is a new application of a not so new drug, doxycycline. Doxycycline is a derivative of tetracycline. Periostat is a 20 mg. capsule of doxycycline that should be taken twice a day over several months. Periostat helps to inhibit the body's production of the destructive collagenase. Unlike higher doses of doxycycline or tetracycline that can be used to prevent the multiplication of some bacteria associated with gum disease, Periostat protects our body's "over-reaction" to bacteria, and its lower dose has far fewer side effects.
Periostat is not intended to replace the need for excellent oral hygiene or other traditional gum treatment. It is a drug that clinical research has shown will modestly improve gum disease when taken in conjunction with professional deep dental cleaning of the gums and a thorough oral hygiene regimen.
Remember, only a dentist can diagnose your dental problems and offer the right treatment plan for you. If you need a dentist, call us at 1-866-970-0441 to be connected with one today.