The thousands of Australians who credit their whiter teeth to BriteSmile will be pleasantly surprised to find they have also taken a step towards improving oral health.
Researchers at the Boston-based Forsyth Institute confirmed for the first time that short exposure to BriteSmile's proprietary UV-free blue light killed four major bacteria implicated in gingivitis and periodontal disease.
The findings, published in the April 2005 Journal of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, confirmed the disease fighting ability of the blue light.
"By utilising the UV-free blue light in this tooth whitening procedure, over a short duration of exposure, we have demonstrated its potential health benefits in preventing, controlling and treating periodontitis," said Dr Max Goodson, Director of Clinical Research at the Forsyth Institute and lead researcher on the study.
"Perhaps even more exciting though is the promise of one day using this technology for professional and consumer hand-held devices that might be used to help combat periodontal disease."
"Our past research has proven the cosmetic benefits of the complete tooth whitening procedure including light and peroxide, but this study is the first to establish the health benefits of BriteSmile's technology in eliminating harmful bacteria," said Ron Jansen, Managing Director of Consolidated Dental Holdings, the exclusive agent for BriteSmile in Australia.
"In the near term, this study identifies significant clinical benefits of our treatment, but the long-term implications could change the face of oral healthcare".
Past research on the effects of phototherapy on oral bacteria indicated that red and green light were useful in partially suppressing the growth of certain oral bacteria. This study sought to prove that blue light could rapidly and selectively kill four major oral black-pigmented bacteria (BPB) that cause gum disease, without harming helpful bacteria.
Researchers collected oral cultures containing as many as 600 different bacteria from 15 patients. All patients were suffering from chronic periodontitis but had not undergone any treatment for the condition in the past three months.
The effects of the light were measured on Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Prevotella nigrescens and Prevotella melaninogenica. The study included measurement of a control strain Streptococcus constellatus, which is not classified as a BPB.
Researchers exposed the bacteria samples to varying levels of intensity and exposure time in the spectral range of 380-520 nm (the blue spectrum) for a minimum of 60 seconds using the BriteSmile light source.
Results of the study showed that within minutes, the proprietary blue light from the BriteSmile light source selectively eliminated four harmful types of bacteria while leaving other more beneficial bacteria unaffected.
Specifically, P. intermedia and P. nigrescens were virtually eliminated within 60 seconds, and P. melaninogenica was reduced by 70% within five minutes. The survival rate of P. gingivalis was 77%, 13% and 1.5% after exposure to varying light fluences over a short period of time. The control, S. constellatus, remained unaffected by irradiation.
In addition, the study also found that while the proportion of pathogenic bacteria was reduced, the proportion of beneficial bacteria increased, encouraging bacterial balance necessary for a healthy mouth.