Semmelweis Reveals New Treatment Approach in Periodontology


Image by Nikoletta Lia Muhari /

Rather than targeting treatment against bacteria, dentists at Hungary’s Semmelweis University bank on the body’s immune response to combat the cells responsible for maintaining oral inflammation.

“One of our goals was to inactivate macrophages associated with proinflammatory activation and help them convert into macrophages that have anti-inflammatory and pro-healing functions”, explains Dr. Zoltán Géczi, assistant professor at Semmelweis University within the Department of Prosthodontics, and the first author of the study describing the new approach.

Affecting 20-50% of the global population, periodontitis, a type of gum disease, is an infection that damages the soft and hard tissue around the teeth. If left untreated, it can destroy the bone and lead to the loss of the tooth.

Within the development of the new approach, researchers at Semmelweis target macrophages, a type of white blood cell that has an integral part in the immune system with the role of eliminating foreign antigens, such as bacteria.

This novel approach has been previously used in cancer therapy but has never been described in periodontology. According to a statement shared by the university, the researchers aim to create a dental hygiene product, such as mouthwash, to supplement traditional methods. 

The statement describes how researchers created a complex with two components: silver, responsible for the antimicrobial effect and folic acid, which helps get substance into the inflamed cell.

Silver gets into the cell linked to FA because the very barriers that protect organs and cells from harmful substances also prevent active agents needed to fight pathogens or inflammation from entering. Once inside the cell, the FA-silver complex breaks down, and the silver ion destroys the macrophages that maintain the inflammation.

This approach is also called the Trojan-horse mechanism as the active ingredient gets into the cell camouflaged. This method has never been applied in the field of periodontology before.

“Laboratory trials are ongoing; when the product is ready – in the form of mouthwash or gel – it will be applied locally in the oral cavity directly to the inflamed areas,” says Dr. Zoltán Géczi.

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