New Discovery Related to Gum Disease

Periodontal disease is the inflammation and infection that destroys the tissues that support the teeth, which includes the gums, the periodontal ligaments, and the tooth sockets.  Gingivitis, a form of periodontal disease, is caused by the effects of plaque deposits on your teeth.  The traditional method of dealing with periodontal disease is to prevent plaque from forming at the gum-line or prevent the consequences of the progression of the disease.  What would happen if a person’s body could prevent the inflammation and resulting infection from ever happening?  A discovery by a university dentistry research team just might make this possible.

David Scott, PhD, from the University of Louisville, has found a way to prevent inflammation and bone loss surrounding the teeth by blocking the enzyme GSKb3’s natural signaling pathway.  This enzyme plays a significant role in directing the body’s  immune response.  The discovery by Scott and his dentistry research team, has not only implications in preventing periodontal disease, but may have relevance in preventing  other chronic inflammatory diseases, as well.  GSK3b is involved in signaling multiple inflammatory pathways and is associated with a number of diseases.  Scientists are testing the enzyme for its impact on such diseases as Alzheimer’s, Type II diabetes and some form of cancers, as well as other diseases.

Scott said, “Our approach (to dealing with periodontal disease) manipulates a natural mechanism within our bodies to prevent inflammation and subsequent degradation when exposed to the bacterium P. gingivitis.”  Scott went on to explain how his research team used a GSK3b specific inhibitor, SB216763, to block the enzyme from completing its normal function, and, thus, stopped the inflammation process and subsequent bone loss caused by gingivitis. 

Although this is an important discovery, many steps need to be taken before SB216763 can be used to block the enzyme GSK3b.  Scott and his team will need to determine whether the inhibitor has any negative side-effects or if they need to search for another inhibitor of GSK3b in the prevention of periodontal disease.