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Photodynamic therapy shows promise in treating periodontal disease

Patients with periodontal disease may soon benefit from a therapy first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat precancerous skin lesions of the face and scalp.

Researchers at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil found that photodynamic therapy minimized the destruction of periodontal tissue when compared to other treatment techniques, including scaling and root planing and antibiotic therapy.

"We found that PDT is significantly less invasive than other treatments for periodontal diseases," said study author Dr. Valdir Gouveia Garcia. "It can provide improved dentin hypersensitivity, reduced inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth, and allows tissues to repair faster."

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support the teeth. It attacks just below the gum line where it can cause the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues to break down.

There are two steps to PDT treatment. First, a light sensitive drug is applied to the area. Second, a light or laser is shone on the area. When the light is combined with the drug, phototoxic reactions induce the destruction of bacterial cells.

That PDT may be an alternative to antibiotic treatment is becoming increasingly important as antibiotic resistance increases, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

"This is an exciting finding," said Dr. Preston D. Miller, Jr., president of the American Academy of Periodontology. "Unfortunately, long term antibiotic therapy not only decreases the drug's effectiveness, but also may lead to the development of drug resistant organisms. Our Academy supports future research to further define the application of PDT as a means to treat periodontal disease."

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