As Scientists Link COVID-19 To Gum Disease, A Double-Blind Study Finds That A New Toothpaste Significantly Improves Gum Health

Scientists at UCI’s Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic conduct the first ever study to show that brushing with a novel toothpaste improves symptoms in patients with periodontitis

Irvine, Calif, March 24, 2021 — While several recent studies show that individuals with chronic gum disease are more likely to experience potentially life-threatening complications if they contract COVID-19, a new study shows promise in addressing the root issue. Researchers at the University of California Irvine’s Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic recently reported results of a six-month long study, published in The Journal of Periodontology, showing for the first time that a novel toothpaste demonstrated medically significant improvements in the health of the gums of patients with periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease.

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Gum disease affects 65 million Americans today (almost half of Americans adults over 30 years of age). New research has shown that COVID-19 patients with gum disease are almost nine times more likely to die compared to those without gum disease. They were also 3.5 times more likely to be admitted to intensive care, and 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator. Furthermore, a study in the Journal of Periodontology found that severe gum disease (periodontitis) is highest among ethnic minorities (63.5% of Hispanic, 59.1% of African American, and 50% of Asian Americans). In other words, severe gum disease could be a contributing factor to high risk of COVID-related complications and deaths, especially in ethnic communities.

As a part of her focus on translational research, Dr. Petra Wilder Smith initiated a double-blinded study testing a novel dental gel against an FDA approved anti-gingivitis toothpaste to investigate their effects on gum health in patients with early to moderate periodontitis. The six-month long study compared how the two toothpastes affected periodontal pocket depths, gingival inflammation, and gum bleeding in patients with periodontitis who were in maintenance care.

The findings revealed that subjects who brushed with the novel LivFresh Dental Gel experienced clinically and statistically significant improvements in their symptoms versus the control group that brushed with an over-the-counter, FDA-approved anti-plaque, anti-gingivitis toothpaste.

Dental plaque is the root cause of gum disease and a primary barrier to healing and resolution of periodontitis. Several previous laboratory and clinical studies by Wilder-Smith’s group have demonstrated that the novel formulation retards on a molecular level dental plaque formation, attachment and re-accumulation at the tooth surface by increasing its negative charge. The charged surface prevents early individual plaque islands from coalescing into larger deposits, discourages plaque from attaching to the tooth surface and supports the breakup of existing plaque deposits. Thus, by inhibiting dental plaque, the novel formulation reduces the presence of the harmful plaque bacteria and bacterial products that are implicated in chronic gum disease.

In individuals who brushed with the test gel, pocket depths in the gums improved in more than 80% of diseased sites. Additionally, subjects who brushed with the new formulation had 2.5 times less gum inflammation and 1.9 times less gum bleeding, when compared to the group using the conventional toothpaste.

“This novel dental gel represents a potentially groundbreaking tool for improving and maintaining gum health in patients suffering from periodontal disease. The results of our studies show that periodontal patients may be able to obtain significant oral health benefits through this new formulation,” said Wilder-Smith, the study’s primary investigator and professor and director of dentistry at Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic. “We anticipate that this novel formulation, when used in combination with professional periodontal care, may revolutionize healing in the gums and maintenance of periodontal health.” Larger and longer studies are now in progress to solidify these finding.

This study was supported by National Institutes of Health grants, the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation and Livionex Inc. The authors report no conflicts of interest related to this study.

The UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic is one of five national Beckman Institutes supported by the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation with others at: California Institute of TechnologyUniversity of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignStanford University, and City of Hope Hospital and Medical Center.  Each Beckman Institute is dedicated to cutting-edge research at the interface between disciplines. The UCI location is a unique translational technology center, moving new technologies rapidly from the laboratory benchtop to the patient bedside.