A growing body of evidence points to a link between iron-deficiency anemia and severe tooth decay. Whether the connection is correlative or causative is unknown, though both conditions are associated with poor diets and are more common in people living in impoverished environments and with underlying medical conditions.
Now, research from Penn Dental Medicine, in collaboration with Indiana University, suggests that an FDA-approved therapy for iron-deficiency anemia also holds promise for treating, preventing, and even diagnosing tooth decay-causing plaque. The therapeutic, a combination of an iron-oxide nanoparticle-containing solution called ferumoxytol and hydrogen peroxide, was applied to real tooth enamel placed in a denture-like appliance and worn by the study subjects.
The study, published in the journal Nano Letters, found that a twice daily application of ferumoxytol, which activated hydrogen peroxide contained in a follow-up rinse, significantly reduced the buildup of harmful dental plaque and had a targeted effect on the bacteria largely responsible for tooth decay. These types of nanoparticles with enzyme-like properties are sometimes known as “nanozymes” and are increasingly being explored for their potential in biomedical and environmental applications.
“We found that this approach is both precise and effective,” says Dr. Michel Koo, a professor at Penn Dental Medicine and Co-Director of the School’s Center for Innovation & Precision Dentistry. “It disrupts dental biofilms (plaque), particularly those that cause caries, and it also reduced the extent of enamel decay. This is the first study we know of done in a clinical setting that demonstrates the therapeutic value of nanozymes against an infectious disease.”
The work is an extension of a 2018 paper published in Nature Communications, in which Koo and colleagues, including David Cormode of Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, showed that the iron oxide nanoparticle-hydrogen peroxide treatment could prevent biofilm accumulation and tooth-decay in laboratory studies and in an animal model. Read more >>
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (Grant DE025848) and Johnson & Johnson (Grant 573399)