Hormone melatonin may protect gums from disease

Salivary melatonin may play an important role in maintaining periodontal health, according to a new study published in the Journal of Periodontology.

This is one of the first attempts to examine the influence of salivary melatonin upon periodontal disease, an inflammation that destroys the tissues and bone that support the teeth.

Researchers found that melatonin, a hormone created by the pineal gland, may be able to protect the oral cavity against free radicals produced by inflammatory diseases. Melatonin has strong antioxidant effects that can protect cells against inflammatory processes and oxidative damage. Melatonin supplements are commonly promoted to ease jet lag and hasten sleep.

Patients with higher salivary and melatonin ratios had lower community periodontal index (CPI). CPI is the score used to assess periodontal status. This finding suggests that the melatonin may fight against infection and inflammation possibly due to its antioxidant, anti-aging and immunoenhancing ability.

It was also observed that older patients had lower saliva volumes and melatonin ratios and higher CPI scores compared to younger patients with increased salivary and melatonin levels and decreased CPI scores.

“Further research is required to fully explain the relationship between melatonin and its influence on periodontal health,” said Kenneth A. Krebs, DMD and AAP president.. “Until we know more, it’s important for people to talk to their dental professional about the state of their periodontal health. Periodontal disease and dental decay are the primary causes of adult tooth loss.”