Phototherapy: A novel approach in daily personal oral care - Fundamental research and clinical application

Project leader

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2014
End date: 31/12/2016


This project is a unique interdisciplinary research cooperation between analytical chemists, dental hygienists and dentists. The overall goal is to obtain a scientific basis for the implementation of phototherapy in everyday personal oral care to improve oral hygiene and in an extension decrease the contribution to systemic diseases from infectious diseases evolving from the oral cavity.

The aims of this project are to investigate the influence of phototherapy on oral bacteria and fungi in-vitro, and the in-vivo impact of phototherapy on prevention and treatment of microbial mediated periodontal diseases (gingivitis and periodontitis). The basic idea is to use the endogenous porphyrins in oral bacteria and fungi as photosensitizers for phototherapy treatment. This excludes the use of various chemicals commonly added as photosensitizers in photodynamic therapy (PDT) treatments. The project is a combination of fundamental biomedical research and clinical trials and applications with the purpose to investigate the sensitivity of oral microorganisms to visible light and to determine if these organisms can be eradicated with phototherapy, i.e. by illumination with selected wavelengths of visible light without using exogenous chemical photosensitizers.

The fundamental biomedical research part of the project is focused on the influence of light on the growth/survival of in-vitro cultivated oral microorganisms and the impact of irradiation of the chemical profile of porphyrins in order to investigate the role of these compounds to act as endogenous photosensitizing agents.

The clinical research part of the project will transfer the acquired knowledge from the fundamental research into practical use of phototherapy treatment on patients in clinical RCT studies. Phototherapy will be used in patient centered research by clinical studies of daily personal oral care using toothbrushes with incorporated light sources. Phototherapy will be used in in the form of daily short light exposure by the patients themselves using a phototherapy toothbrush for their ordinary daily oral care. The outcome will be measured by clinical parameters, as well as microbiological analysis of selected bacteria. The patients perception of the toothbrush phototherapy will also be evaluated.

To include phototherapy treatment in a toothbrush represents a novel approach of great interest to daily oral care. As is discussed below, phototherapy has been shown to reduce oral microorganisms responsible for oral diseases, has demonstrated anti-bacterial- and anti-inflammatory effects, exhibited wound healing abilities, and shown effect on cariogenic bacteria as well. This implies that this research project might show that phototherapy can be a novel tool to include in daily oral care for prevention of oral diseases as well as increase the caries preventive aspect when incorporated into a traditional toothbrush.

Besides the effect on oral diseases, which is the major hypotheses in the present study, it could also have an effect in decreasing systemic inflammation by reducing microbial transfer from the oral cavity. Further, there could be an effect on compliance among patients where the toothbrush might serve as an aid in changing a behavior. This research represents a possibility to gain a health economic profit in terms of reducing the cost for dental care and patient suffering.

Funded by teh Swedish Research Council 2,400,000 SEK

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Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:51