Chlorhexidine mouthrinse reduces plaque and can improve gum health in people with low levels of gingivitis

Chlorhexidine mouthrinse_croppedGingivitis is a reversible condition when gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is also very common – studies suggest that as many as 50% to 90% of adults in the UK and USA suffer from it. In susceptible people gingivitis may lead to periodontitis, which is not reversible. In periodontitis inflammation is accompanied by loss of ligaments and bone supporting the teeth. If untreated it may eventually lead to tooth loss. Severe periodontitis is the sixth most widespread disease globally.

It is recognised that maintaining a high standard of oral hygiene is important for the prevention and treatment of gingivitis. Toothbrushing is the main method for maintaining good oral hygiene. Other cleaning methods commonly used include dental floss, interdental brushes and scaling and polishing carried out by a dental professional. Some people have difficulty controlling plaque build-up and preventing gingivitis using only conventional tooth cleaning. Therefore people sometimes use mouthrinses containing chlorhexidine in addition to conventional tooth cleaning. These mouthrinses are readily available over the counter; prescriptions generally not being required outside the USA. Continue reading

Treatments for osteonecrosis of the jaw bones associated with bisphosphonate drugs

Woman face with visible jaws and teeths

Bisphosphonates are drugs very similar to pyrophosphate (a normal substance found in bone). They are used to lessen symptoms and complications due to the spread of cancer to the bones, and to prevent and treat fragile bones in osteoporosis (a conditon where tiny holes in the bones makes them brittle). These drugs can cause a rare but serious condition called bisphosphonate-related osteonecrosis of the jaw or ‘BRONJ’. BRONJ affects the healing of bone damage by interrupting the process of removing dead bone and laying down new bone. When this happens, parts or all of the jaw bone becomes friable (a bit like chalk), and eventually this dead bone can be exposed. This makes it difficult for people to eat, speak or brush their teeth, and it often causes severe pain. Many different treatments are currently used for BRONJ. They can be categorised as non-invasive treatments (such as antibiotics and mouth rinses), surgical approaches or “add-on” treatments used to enhance usual care (for example, ozone therapy or use of blood plasma that has been enriched with platelets). Different treatments may be combined. Continue reading