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Bone building drug helps periodontal patients

Bone building drug helps periodontal patients

A drug used to regenerate bone in patients with osteoporosis might also be a useful therapy for those who suffer from bone wounds and bone loss because of gum (periodontal) disease according to researchers at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

The study, published online and in print by the New England Journal of Medicine, examined 40 patients with severe, chronic periodontitis who had periodontal surgery and received daily injections of either teriparatide (brand name Forteo) or a placebo.

Participants also received calcium and vitamin D supplements for six weeks.

Researchers studied the participants for one year and used X-rays of participants’ jawbones plus other outcome measurements to determine the drug’s effectiveness.

Patients who received the teriparatide showed a 29 percent gain in bone after a year, compared with 3 percent in the group that took the placebo as well as greater reduction in probing depths and greater gains in clinical attachment level (the amount of space between attached periodontal tissues and a fixed point of a tooth).

Teriparatide is an anabolic drug, meaning it promotes growth, which in this instance is bone growth. The study is significant, researchers said, because periodontal disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults and has been associated with a variety of other health problems.

“This new approach for the treatment of periodontal disease could allow us to rebuild some of the bone that is lost due to periodontal disease, which until this point has been very difficult to achieve,” said Dr. Jill Bashutski, UM clinical assistant professor and first author of the study. “Current treatments to re-grow bone around teeth affected with gum disease have limited success rates.”

The study’s principal investigator, Dr. Laurie McCauley, UM professor and chair of periodontics and oral medicine, added, “I think one really interesting aspect of this study is that even a short dosing of this drug had benefits that lasted a year.”

The next step, Dr. McCauley said, is for researchers to test whether the treatment could be delivered locally to target site-specific bone healing, such as to help grow bone around dental implants

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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