Metformin could help treat gum disease, aid healthy aging

Close-up of a person holding a bottle of metformin, a drug used to treat diabetes.Share on Pinterest
Metformin is a drug used to control and treat diabetes and can also help people with gum disease.Tasha Tuwango/Getty Images
  • Although gum disease occurs in the mouth, previous research has shown that it can affect the health of other parts of the body, such as the heart and bones.
  • Researchers at King's College London recently discovered that metformin, a common type 2 diabetes medication, may help improve clinical outcomes in non-diabetic patients with gum disease.
  • The same study, using mice and clinical trials, found that metformin may help prevent bone loss caused by periodontal disease or aging.

about 19% of the world’s adult population There are serious periodontal disease.

Also called gum disease, this occurs when the tissue that holds your teeth in place becomes infected. If left untreated, periodontal disease can damage the bones in your mouth and eventually lead to tooth loss.

Periodontal disease can also affect other parts of the body.Previous study shows gum disease increases risk of periodontal disease Cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer's disease, diabetesand Respiratory diseases.

Now, researchers at King's College London have found, using mice and clinical trials, that a common type 2 diabetes drug may help improve clinical outcomes in non-diabetic people with gum disease and help prevent periodontal disease. or bone loss caused by aging.

This research was recently published in Journal of Translational Medicine.

In the study, Dr Vitor Neves, academic clinical lecturer in the Department of Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Sciences at King's College London, periodontal registrar and lead author of the study, and his team focused on a common type 2 diabetes drug. , called metformin.

Previous research has examined anti-inflammatory properties Metformin may provide protection against Cardiovascular diseases, Liver diseaseand some cancer type.

This isn't the first study to consider metformin as an “anti-aging” treatment, either. Research published in August 2019 found growing evidence that the drug Reduce the risk of aging-related diseases.

A study published in April 2021 showed that metformin can reduce End of glycation – Signs of aging – by lowering insulin and blood sugar levels and increasing insulin sensitivity.

First, the researchers tested metformin in a mouse model of periodontal disease. After studying mice, scientists found that metformin significantly prevented bone loss during induced periodontal disease and age-related bone loss in living mice.

“What surprised me about metformin was that it made my aging animals healthier and (prevented) 50 percent of bone loss,” Dr. Neves told us Medical News Today. “When I analyzed the data, it was the first time I felt, 'Wow, there's really something here.'”

Next, Dr. Neves and his colleagues conducted a clinical trial on 20 study participants who had gum disease but did not have diabetes.

At the end of the trial, researchers found that participants taking metformin had improved clinical outcomes from gum disease treatment. Additionally, metformin helps control blood sugar levels and inflammation in the mouth and body, even when bacteria levels are high.

Using metformin to improve aging

“Prevention starts before disease occurs, and my animal data and patient data both show that metformin works well even when the bacteria in the mouth are high. This raises the question: Is ‘just brushing’ our teeth really good?” The only way to truly prevent the progression of gum disease throughout your life,” says Dr. Neves.

In addition to these surprising findings, my clinical data also suggest that metformin can improve the overall health of people with gum disease by stabilizing blood sugar levels, improving insulin sensitivity, and controlling inflammation,” he added.

“All these marks [stabilized glucose, improved insulin, controlled inflammation] According to aging research, they are directly related to improvements in aging. Therefore, it seems that preventing systemic diseases from the oral cavity is a good way to prevent systemic diseases.
— Dr. Vito Neves

Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria collect on the teeth, forming a sticky substance called plaque.

Most plaque can be removed with good dental hygiene – brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. If plaque remains on your teeth for too long, it hardens into a substance called tartar that can only be removed with a professional dental cleaning.

Plaque and tartar on teeth can also cause gum inflammation and infection, leading to gingivitis.

Assume that plaque and tartar are not removed from the teeth and gingivitis is not treated. In this case, the infection may spread deep into the soft tissue around the teeth, potentially leading to bone and tooth loss, a condition known as periodontitis.

The best treatment for periodontal disease is to prevent it by following healthy oral hygiene habits. This includes visiting your dentist every six months for a professional teeth cleaning.

If periodontal disease has developed and become severe, your dentist may recommend a deep cleaning to remove plaque from areas of the teeth below the gum line.

Severe cases of periodontitis may require medication and surgical treatment.

“If you go to the dentist today, the only possible treatments for gum disease are based on oral hygiene, teeth cleaning, and antibiotic treatments, which are all based on controlling the plaque (bacteria and food) that builds up around the teeth,” Dr. Neves tells . MNT.

“The issue is [current treatments for gum disease] Addressing disease only from a bacterial perspective and ignoring inflammation. Furthermore, existing treatments do not help prevent other non-communicable diseases.
— Dr. Vito Neves

“Therefore, developing new treatments and pathways within health systems that treat people with gum disease as potential victims of other non-communicable diseases can help reduce the overall disease burden around the world and potentially create a new generation of healthy older people,” “He said.

Past research shows periodontal disease can affect a person's health systematic – or overall body – health, affects how they age.

Periodontal disease is also associated with inflammation, a chronic inflammation that occurs with aging.

Dr. Neves said systemic diseases that affect overall health, such as diabetes, obesity and cognitive decline, usually begins to affect people from late adulthood to old age. However, gum disease starts much earlier, starting in everyone around age 30.

“The diseases I mentioned and gum disease are all non-communicable diseases, meaning they occur throughout a person’s lifetime. These diseases have also been shown to be associated with people with gum disease. In other words, people with severe gum disease are more likely to have these diseases,” he noted.

Our research shows that if we start fighting gum disease from a systems perspective, over time we may be able to fight and prevent other non-communicable diseases that people with gum disease may develop throughout their lives.” Neves Dr. added.

Dr. Purnima Kumar, spokesperson for the American Dental Association and professor at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, said after reviewing the study Medical News Today As a clinician who specializes in treating patients with periodontal disease, she initially found the study very interesting.

“But it's also important to remember that these findings are very preliminary and come with some caveats – including the fact that most results are reported from animal studies,” she said.

“These findings require more studies in larger populations. Additionally, because the researchers are recommending off-label use of a drug that is only FDA-approved to help improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes, more data must be collected. more data on any adverse effects of taking the drug,” she added.

Talking about overall health, Dr Kumar said the mouth is the window to the health of the body. She said many people don't realize that a variety of systemic illnesses and diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, can affect oral health systemically or due to the body's inability to maintain proper oral hygiene.

“Periodontal and systemic disease share many common risk factors, including smoking and poor diet. An important part of healthy aging is taking care of your oral health, which includes brushing your teeth twice a day, cleaning between your teeth once a day, and visiting your dentist regularly. You You can find helpful dental health information from the ADA at
–PhD.Purnima Kumar

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