Beta Glucan vs. Periodontal Disease

toothdiagramMany adults in the U.S. currently have some form of the disease. Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are lost.

Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless “plaque” on teeth. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form “tartar” that brushing doesn’t clean. The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called “gingivitis.” In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily.

When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to “periodontitis” (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.

Oral infection with Porphyromonas gingivalis and Bacteroides forsythus has been associated with periodontal disease. Poly-1-6-glucotriosyl-1-3-glucopyranose glucan (PGG-glucan) is an immunomodulator, which specifically enhances neutrophil priming, phagocytosis and bacterial killing while failing to induce inflammatory cytokine expression. Clinical results indicate that PGG-glucan significantly enhances neutrophil emigration and bacterial killing, thus decreasing the bacterial infection in this model system (Oral Biology).