Tissue Engineering Called the Future of Periodontal Medicine

About 500,000 people annually undergo periodontal procedures that involve harvesting soft tissue from the roof of the mouth to graft onto diseased areas of the gum. But according to Dr. Michael McGuire, president of the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), all that may be about to change — thanks to the science of tissue engineering.

At the annual meeting of the AAP, Dr. McGuire presented early results of a trial using Advanced Tissue Sciences’ living, bio-engineered tissue in place of palatal grafts. In the trial, Dr. McGuire used traditional palatal grafts on one side of the patient’s mouth, and Advanced Tissue’s laboratory-grown tissue on the other. He then compared the results within each patient and found them to be equivalent.

The advantages of the tissue-engineered approach include eliminating the need for a second surgical site (the roof of the mouth), which could decrease patient morbidity. In addition, periodontists may be able to treat patients with extensive gum disease all at once. (Current practice requires healing of the palate between each surgery.)

CDHA Elects President

Ottawa, ON — The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association has elected Barbara Gibb president of the Board of Directors.

At the Canadian Dental Hygiene Association level she served as Director representing Ontario, since October 1998 and President-Elect in 2000/01. In addition, she was a pioneer in the field of self-employed dental hygienists in 1977/84 and received the ODHA Distinguished Service Award in 1996, for contributions and outstanding service to the Association and the profession of dental hygiene.

Study to Examine Perio/Heart Disease Link

Chapel Hill, NC — Over the past five years, mounting scientific evidence has suggested a significant link exists between heart and gum disease, but doctors and dentists can’t say whether treating the latter will benefit heart patients. A new study beginning at five major American universities hopes to answer the question.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research will support the three-year effort with a US$7.2 million grant.

Central to the work will be learning how patients who had their periodontal disease treated aggressively compared with heart patients who had not. Approximately 900 patients will participate. Dentists, cardiologists, epidemiologists, biostatisticians, dental hygienists and nurses will be involved.

In related work, University of North Carolina researchers are studying whether gum disease and inflammation contribute to babies being born prematurely and weighing less than they should.