Could chewing gum prevent implant failure in the future?
WÜRZURG, Germany: About 6 to 15 per cent of patients suffer from peri-implantitis, inflammation that destroys soft and hard tissue surrounding the implant after placement. Researchers from Germany have announced that they are planning to develop a chewing gum that releases a bitter flavour in the presence of peri-implantitis-specific enzymes. With their invention, they hope to accelerate diagnosis of the disease.
It is known that the concentration of matrix metalloproteinase-8, an enzyme that is also responsible for periodontitis, increases significantly when inflammation around the dental implant arises. Prof. Lorenz Meinel from the Institute of Pharmacy and Food Chemistry at the University of Würzburg explained that this increase could be identified through a special chewing gum using a small peptide chain that is bound to a bitter-tasting compound. Once enzyme concentrations in a patient’s saliva exceed a certain level owing to complications with the implant, the peptide chain will snap, releasing the bitter compound.
In the future, special chewing gum could be part of post-operative care in addition to routine check-ups. Patients would have to contact their dentist upon recognising the bitter taste.
In addition to the development of the chewing gum, the researchers are considering developing a coating that uses the peptide chain system and can be applied to the implant directly.
The project will be carried out in collaboration with Swiss dental implant manufacturer Thommen Medical and various other European companies and scientific institutions. The research has received funding of €1 million for two years from the European Union.