When we first blogged about hydrogen therapy, not long after we had begun using it in our biological dental practice, we noted how early research suggested that molecular hydrogen (a/k/a hydrogen water) could be especially helpful in improving gum health.
In the two years since, more research has been published, including one recent study on how hydrogen water might improve periodontal (gum) health.
“Activated inflammatory cells produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) to eliminate pathogens,” explained the study’s authors.
Under normal conditions, the pathogens are taken care of, and tissues are repaired. However, in periodontal disease, persistent inflammation causes increased ROS release and impaired healing. Therefore, removal of overproduced ROS using antioxidants is necessary.
Hydrogen water, they theorized, could provide a way of clearing those ROS since it has antioxidative effects on cells and already has been shown to be effective against oxidative stress.
To test their theory, the team obtained gum tissue samples from 13 people with healthy gums and 13 with chronic periodontitis. This is gum disease in its severe form, in which tissue damage and bone loss occur. If allowed to progress, the end result is tooth loss, since there’s less and less tissue to hold the teeth in place.
Chronic periodontitis: You don’t want it. But back to the study.
The researchers then cultured connective tissue cells called fibroblasts from those 26 samples and tested them for cell viability and migration potential after being exposed to hydrogen water. These measures show whether a cell is alive and healthy enough for normal function and its ability to move toward particular stimuli. The researchers also tested the antioxidative potential of hydrogen water.
Comparing results between the two types of samples, the researchers found that cell viability in the gum disease group improved significantly between 24 and 48 hours after treatment. The cells also moved more in comparison to those from the healthy group. “Hydrogen water,” they wrote, “showed an antioxidative potential.”
Because of this,
The adjunctive use of hydrogen water as an irrigant, and mouth rinse especially in patients with chronic periodontitis, needs to be further explored. The encouraging results of this basic research prompt us to undertake further prospective clinical studies for the application of hydrogen water as an adjunct in the treatment of patients with chronic periodontitis.
Which is another way of saying that more research needs to be done specifically on using hydrogen water as part of periodontal treatment. However, evidence so far suggests that, like ozone, molecular hydrogen is effective when used in conjunction with other procedures such as scaling and root planing – that is, as part of a “deep cleaning” to help the gums return to a healthier state.