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, US research from the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration with Indiana University, suggests that an FDA-approved therapy for iron-deficiency anemia also holds promise for treating, preventing, and even diagnosing dental decay. 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.
Published in Nano Letters, the study found that a twice daily application of ferumoxytol, which activated hydrogen peroxide contained in a follow-up rinse, significantly reduced the build-up 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,” Hyun (Michel) Koo, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, said.
“It disrupts biofilms, particularly those formed by Streptococcus mutans, which 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.”