Melatonin May Help Fight Oral Infections, Periodontal Disease

Salivary melatonin may play an important role in maintaining periodontal health, according to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology.

Researchers at the University of Granada, Spain, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, studied 37 patients with different degrees of periodontal disease. All subjects underwent a medical and dental examination, and researchers collected data on salivary and plasma melatonin levels, as well as community periodontal index (CPI) status, from each subject.

Melatonin, a hormone created by the pineal gland, may be able to protect the oral cavity against free radicals produced by inflammatory diseases, said researchers. Melatonin has strong antioxidant effects that can protect cells against inflammatory processes and oxidative damage, and melatonin supplements commonly are promoted to ease jet lag and hasten sleep.

"Patients with higher salivary and melatonin ratios had lower community periodontal index. CPI is the score used to assess periodontal status," said study co-author Dr. Pablo Galindo, Department of Oral Surgery, School of Dentistry, University of Granada, Spain. "This finding suggests that the melatonin may fight against infection and inflammation possibly due to its antioxidant, anti-aging and immunoenhancing ability."

Researchers also observed that older patients had lower saliva volumes and melatonin ratios and higher CPI scores than did younger patients.

"Further research is required to fully explain the relationship between melatonin and its influence on periodontal health," said Dr. Kenneth A. Krebs, president, American Academy of Periodontology. "Until we know more, it’s important for people to talk to their dental professional about the state of their periodontal health."

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

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