Topical Antioxidants: A New Pathway in Oral Health

Antioxidants, the large, complex molecules that neutralize free radicals, are very specific in the types of oxidant molecules they neutralize and the tissues on which they are effective. For decades, scientists have explored the sources of antioxidants, how they work, and how best to use them in human health. The growing attention to the links among oral disease, inflammation and systemic disease make antioxidants and their effect on free radicals and inflammation an area of focus.

In the 1990s, a team of scientists at Duke University isolated four antioxidants—phloretin, ferulic acid, resveratrol and tetracurcuminoid—and studied their effects on human skin cells. They found that certain combinations of these antioxidants, in precise concentrations, were effective at neutralizing the free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. The result of this scientific research formed the basis of a high-end skin care product line, SkinCeuticals, that created the “cosmeceutical” industry.

Antioxidants on Oral Cells

Beginning in 2005, researchers at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry picked up the research on these same antioxidants. This time, they looked at the effects on oral cells. They determined that combinations of the antioxidants were able to counteract the damaging effects of free radicals caused by nicotine, alcohol and hydrogen peroxide.

Based on this research, PerioSciences, LLC, compounded phloretin and ferulic acid into products for topical application on oral tissues. The first in a suite of products, AO ProVantage dental gel, underwent a battery of clinical trials on dental patients beginning in 2010. Patients found the gel easy to use and pleasant-tasting. The clinical trial also indicated that proper use of the gel was associated with a significant improvement in gingival color and gingival form over a six-month period.

Clinical Experience

In addition, dental professionals have reported good results in using AO ProVantage dental gel in patient case studies. These case studies were published in the article, “Oral antioxidants: a weapon in wound healing,” by Jamie White, RDH, in Surgical Restorative Resource eNewsletter in August 2011.

Case 1: A patient completed six sessions of scaling and root planing over 180 days. The patient was instructed to use AO ProVantage twice daily. A photo taken during week 3 showed enhanced reduction of gingival swelling and inflammation.

Case 2: Photos of geographic tongue taken at week 2, week 6, and after six months showed visible improvement. Over this period, the patient used AO ProVantage twice daily and experienced fewer episodes of geographic tongue, as well as a reduced area of involvement and more rapid resolution of recurrences.

Case 3: Following laser gingival re-contouring, a patient applied AO ProVantage twice daily for several days. She reported no post-operative pain, and her tissues healed rapidly.

Case 4: A patient was diagnosed with an ill-fitting bridge that caused gingival inflammation, and persistent discomfort. A new bridge was seated and the patient was given AO ProVantage for use twice daily. At the one-week follow-up appointment, the reduction in gingival inflammation was significant and the pain was alleviated.

As laboratory research and clinical experience accumulate, the role of antioxidants in oral health care—especially with topical application—is becoming ever clearer and more compelling.