Could a Simple Spice be the Key to Treating Periodontitis?

Portland Periodontics

At Portland Periodontics, we work hard to ensure that every patient receives the outstanding care they need to enjoy a healthy smile for a lifetime. When patients come to see Dr. Goldwyn, their oral health is usually facing significant challenges, usually brought on by severe gum disease, also known as periodontitis. Fortunately, as with most branches of medicine, dental care continues to advance in new and exciting ways that offer the potential of improving how patients receive care for periodontitis.

Not all medical advances come from the discovery of new technology. Some develop as a result of examining natural components and reconsidering what role they may play in help to improve patient health.

Curcumin, the primary active ingredient in turmeric that gives the spice it’s yellow color, may have a role to play in the treatment of periodontitis thanks to the spice’s natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. A recent study of the spice was published in the Journal of Periodontal Research.

“Curcumin may be a simple and inexpensive therapeutic strategy for periodontal disease due to its broad-spectrum antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects,” wrote members of the research team.

New Advances Possible in Periodontitis Treatment

Globally, the incidence of severe periodontitis is roughly 11 percent, with about 743 million people having developed the disease. Conventional therapies, such as those provided by Dr. Goldwyn, can improve a patient’s gum health. Typically, patients receive antibacterial drugs to help improve their gum health. However, the use of these types of medications may lead to a bacterial imbalance and potential drug resistance.

With bacterial resistance to drugs stronger, researchers have started to more closely examine natural alternatives like curcumin and other plant extracts as possible alternatives. In their articles, researchers reviewed current studies in humans and animals to assess the progress of curcumin as a possible treatment for periodontitis.

In one animal study, researchers injected a molecule called lipopolysaccharide, a component of the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria, into the gum tissue of rats to create an animal model of experimental periodontitis. The animals were given curcumin that was diluted in corn oil.

Lab tests detect the development of a number of clear signs of periodontitis in the rat gum tissue. The results suggest that curcumin significantly inhibited the expression of cytokine genes at messenger RNA and protein levels while improving the number of fibroblasts and collagen amount, wrote the research team.

In human trials, patients diagnosed with periodontal disease were given curcumin to consolidate the treatment effect and to lower their risk of developing further gum disease after they had received scaling and root planing treatment. One trial found that rinsing the gum pockets with a 1 percent curcumin solution could prevent gum inflammation.

In a second trial, the participants’ gum pockets were injected with curcumin sustained-release tablets. After 30 days of treatment, the depth of their gum pockets, clinical attachment levels, and gingival and plaque indexes had significantly improved, wrote the research team.

While preliminary results show a lot of promise, some researchers believe that any benefits provided by curcumin may be over exaggerated. Little research exists that clearly demonstrates the pharmacological effects of curcumin, which researchers believe requires additional study to deduce.

Even though more study is required, researchers do believe that “curcumin has shown promise in treating periodontitis,” concluded the team.