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Light May Rapidly and Painlessly Kill Bacteria That Cause Gum Disease

Exposure to broadband light may provide a rapid and painless method for killing the bacteria that cause plaque and periodontal disease, say researchers from Texas and Massachusetts. Their findings appear in the April 2005 issue of the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Dental plaque is a film that forms naturally on teeth and consists of many different bacteria. While these bacteria often prove harmless they can also trigger tooth decay resulting in an infection in the gums, or periodontitis. If left untreated this condition can cause bone deterioration and loss of teeth. However, current treatment options often involve painful procedures such as scaling and surgery.

In the study pure samples and those containing dental plaque were collected from patients with chronic periodontitis and exposed to varying degrees of broadband light. This is the same light source commonly used in teeth whitening procedures. The researchers compared bacterial presence before and after light treatment and found that bacteria were significantly reduced after exposure.

"These data suggest that visible light could be used prophylactically to stabilize the normal microbial composition of plaque by suppressing potentially pathogenic BPB," say the researchers. "Compared with other forms of periodontal therapy (scaling, mouthwashes, surgery) this form of treatment would offer many advantages; it is painless, rapid, and devoid of drug toxicity, has no effect on taste, and is selective in its effect."

(N.S. Soukos, S. Som, A.D. Abernethy, K. Ruggiero, J. Dunham, C. Lee, A.G. Doukas, J.M. Goodson. 2005. Phototargeting oral black-pigmented bacteria. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 49. 4: 1391-1396.)


New Approach for Controlling Drug-Resistant Staphylococci

Researchers from Ireland have identified a bacteriophage tha
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Contact: Carrie Patterson
cpatterson@asmusa.org
202-942-9389
American Society for Microbiology
19-Apr-2005


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