Sugar control method for gum disease could help you age healthier

The 2022 Sir Wilfred Fish Research Prize Winner Dr Vitor Neves and his team have found a new method of controlling inflammation and sugar levels for oral and systemic disease prevention using a common diabetes drug.

Periodontal (gum) diseases are strikingly common across the globe and are highly associated with systemic conditions such as diabetes and obesity. What all these conditions have in common is that they develop over our lifespan, but gum disease is the earliest to start (around 30 years old). The only treatment strategy currently available to tackle gum disease is cleaning the bacteria attached to the tooth and antibiotics, which fails to protect against the continuation and development of oral and systemic associated diseases.

A team of researchers at King’s College London have found new ways of stopping periodontal disease and potentially reducing the incidence of diabetes and obesity. This new approach, published on the Journal of Translational Medicine, focuses on controlling inflammation and sugar levels both in the mouth and the body, using Metformin.

Metformin (a pharmaceutical agent capable of modulating sugar metabolism), is a drug commonly used for the management of diabetes, but it is not typically used in dentistry. The researchers demonstrated that using Metformin for gum disease prevention and treatment resulted in enhanced preventive capacity against gum disease establishment and progression during life, even in the presence of high levels of bacteria. This new method of gum disease prevention, controlled weight gain and sugar levels during life, proving to be a new solution to prevent systemic and oral disease all together.

Given the safety of Metformin, the research team tested Metformin in a clinical trial in patients with gum disease without diabetes, showing its potential to help get better outcomes in the gum disease treatment, controlling sugar metabolism and inflammation in the mouth and body.

Lead author of the study Dr Vitor Neves said: “Our patients often do not have any tools to fight against gum disease other than brushing their teeth and for the first time we have a potential tool that can help, not only with gum disease, but overall health”.

Given the readiness and cost-effectiveness of this approach, use of Metformin as a preventive medicine for oral and systemic diseases could be adopted on a global scale, helping many to age healthier. All starting from taking care of their mouths.”

More information about the study is available here:

The study was funded by the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Oral and Dental Research Trust.