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Severe Dental Problems in Children on the Rise: Finnish Innovation Keeps Tooth Decay at Bay

Severe Dental Problems in Children on the Rise: Finnish Innovation Keeps Tooth Decay at Bay

According to Swedish researchers, up to 20% of children have a particularly virulent strain of Streptococcus mutans (S. mutans) in their mouths, which has a greater-than-usual ability to cause severe tooth decay. Finnish health technology company Koite Health Oy – named one of the hottest European startups in 2022 – has launched a method for targeted removal of dental plaque to improve children’s declining oral health.

Lumoral Junior – is the latest technology on the market for improved oral health self-care developed to suit children's needs. Lumoral Junior improves children's oral care and provides a good starting point for oral health even in adulthood. The method was developed by Finnish researchers with the aim of eliminating harmful bacteria in the mouth to treat and prevent oral diseases.

Oral diseases differ from many other diseases in that they are largely preventable. Despite this, caries and gingivitis are very common diseases even in children. By influencing oral conditions through diet, oral hygiene and fluoride, children can be assured of good oral health through relatively simple daily activities. 

– Oral health is a balance between the factors that protect against disease and those that make it possible to contract it. Regular eating habits, thorough mechanical brushing of teeth to remove bacteria from the mouth and regular use of fluoride all protect against tooth decay, says Heikki Alapulli, a paediatric dentist at the New Children's Hospital of HUS (Finland's largest health care provider).

Frequent consumption of high-carbohydrate foods or sugary drinks combined with poor oral hygiene are factors that contribute to dental and oral diseases. This is where the Lumoral Junior – an antibacterial oral cleaning method developed for children's needs – comes in helpful.

– We see a lot of young children with very bad teeth at our hospital. Any new ways to improve the self-care of children's teeth are therefore very welcome, Alapulli says.

Keeping oral bacteria under control

S. mutans is one of the most common bacterial species causing tooth decay. Good oral hygiene is essential to prevent these bacteria from multiplying and damaging a child's sensitive teeth. Careful mechanical brushing of teeth and the use of fluoride toothpaste are the foundation of children's oral hygiene. But even the most effective mechanical brushing is not always enough.

Lumoral Junior improves children's oral self-care and is particularly suitable for children who are prone to caries, have incipient caries or have a high S. mutans bacteria population in the mouth.

In a Swedish study published in 2017, up to 20% of children observed had a particularly virulent strain of S. mutans in their mouths. This has a greater-than-normal ability to attach to teeth surfaces, to tolerate acidic conditions in the mouth and cause more severe cases of caries, thus, challenging traditional caries methods.

– Antibacterial oral care does not replace traditional oral self-care, i.e., brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing, but the approach can inspire and enable children and parents to take better care of their teeth, says Alapulli.

The main responsibility for keeping children's teeth clean always lies with the adults – at least until the third grade of primary school, Alapulli notes.

– As children's hand motor skills develop, the responsibility for cleaning their teeth can gradually be transferred to them. But the child's oral hygiene must be monitored throughout primary school right up to the age of 12-13.

Heikki Alapulli, a paediatric dentist at the New Children's Hospital of HUS (Finland's largest health care provider)

Antibacterial treatment works when mechanical brushing is not enough

Lumoral Junior reduces plaque formation and can be used to prevent oral bacterial diseases such as tooth decay and gingivitis. It can also be used to prevent oral mucositis caused by chemotherapy. The device is intended for regular use. Recommended use for the prevention of tooth decay is at least twice a week.

Lumoral Junior is intended for children over 3 years of age – the typical age group for use of the device is children aged 4-12 years. Lumoral Junior is only intended to be used in combination with the light-activated Lumorinse mouth rinse that attaches to the plaque of the teeth.

– Lumoral Junior improves children's self-care of their teeth even when traditional methods are not enough or when an existing oral disease requires more than just mechanical brushing and flossing, says Tommi Pätilä, a surgeon at HUS New Children's Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, and one of the developers of the antibacterial oral care method.

– Mechanical teeth cleaning methods are the key to good oral health. However, it is important to remember that brushing only removes 50-60% of plaque at best. The Lumoral Junior antibacterial method is a very effective yet gentle way of removing plaque. It also slows down the formation of new plaque, Pätilä continues.

Tommi Pätilä, a surgeon at HUS New Children's Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, and one of the developers of the antibacterial oral care method.

Good oral health protects the heart

It is important that the child's permanent teeth can develop without having been infected by caries. This makes it very likely that the child will continue to have good oral health in the future. Studies show that it also protects the child from cardiovascular disease in adulthood as well.

– Later in life, a heart attack occurs when the blood supply is cut off from the heart muscle, usually because of a blood clot.  Researchers found dental bacteria in most of these clots.  Thus, the importance of good oral health in managing the risk of heart disease cannot be overemphasized, Pätilä explains.

Alapulli points out that many long-term illnesses are associated with an increased risk of oral disease and that most oral diseases originate in dental biofilms. Dental biofilm is precisely where the antibacterial effect of Lumoral Junior targets.

Alapulli adds that in addition to tooth decay, gingivitis is also common in children if teeth are not cleaned thoroughly enough. Good oral health is also good for the treatment of underlying diseases. However, poor oral hygiene in childhood can be a step on the road to serious gum disease in adulthood, known as periodontitis.

– Habits learned early in life are more likely to be maintained during adulthood and children quickly learn that brushing their teeth every morning and evening is part of their daily routine. It is vital to prevent dental disease especially in children with underlying health conditions. For instance, children with heart conditions are at a higher risk of developing caries. Good oral hygiene is also one of the most important steps in preventing endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart's chambers and valves.

According to Alapulli, one of the major advantages of antibacterial treatment is that it is selective. Lumoral Junior targets hidden plaque on the teeth without disrupting normal oral flora. This is where Lumoral differs from oral anti-inflammatory antimicrobials such as chlorhexidine.

– Chemical mouthwashes also kill the good bacteria in the mouth, and with prolonged use, the mouth gets used to them, Alapulli explains.

– The use of Lumoral Junior facilitates the mechanical removal of biofilm in the child's mouth. It is, therefore, one key component of a thorough oral self-care routine to maintain children’s oral health.

Finnish health technology company Koite Health expands to Sweden, signs Lumoral® partnership with Aqua Dental dental chain

Finnish health technology company Koite Health expands to Sweden, signs Lumoral® partnership with Aqua Dental dental chain

Finnish health technology company Koite Health Oy has signed a cooperation agreement with Swedish dental chain Aqua Dental Ab. The partnership will enable around twenty Aqua Dental clinics across Stockholm and Gothenburg to offer Lumoral, the latest technology on the market for improved oral health self-care, to their patients. 

Meticulous dental self-care is the basis for the prevention and treatment of gum diseases such as periodontitis. Effective mechanical tooth brushing and flossing is, however, usually not enough. 

Lumoral treatment enhances dental self-care, especially when traditional self-care is not sufficient or when an existing oral disease requires more drastic measures than just brushing and flossing alone. 

Lumoral puts clinic-level care in the patient's own hands 

Research shows that Lumoral's antibacterial aPDT phototherapy effectively eliminates harmful oral bacteria while also treating advanced gum disease. Similar light-activated antibacterial treatments have been used in the past, for example in dental clinics. However, the problem has been the cost and the required frequency of these treatments to provide sufficient benefit.  

Koite Health brings a clinic-level treatment method into the hands of its customers. The Lumoral device has also recently been recommended by the Finnish Association of Dental Hygienists. 

Lumoral has shown promising results both clinically and at the advanced molecular level, says Nilminie Rathnayake, Specialist Dentist and Training Manager, Periodontology at Aqua Dental. 

According to Rathnayake, patients of Aqua Dental clinics have long wished they could improve their everyday dental self-care. 

The fact that we can recommend Lumoral as a complement to oral self-care seems promising, as research results show that Lumoral has helped achieve excellent results. 

The new collaboration will enable the Swedish dental chain to improve patients' oral health and satisfaction by giving them the opportunity to take control of their oral health by including Lumoral in their daily dental care at home. 

I believe that this type of daily oral hygiene supplement will mainly help patients with oral diseases such as periodontitis or peri-implantitis. The Aqua Dental chain aims to provide its patients with the best current care for oral diseases. We believe that the partnership agreement with Koite Health is one way of providing our patients with the best possible care. 

A differentiating factor for partner clinics 

According to Sakari Nikinmaa, CEO of Koite Health, the benefits of the partnership agreement are mutual. 

By working together, we can improve the quality of dental care and give patients the best possible treatment experience and outcomes. Aqua Dental offers its patients a first-class patient experience and level of dental care, which combines perfectly with Lumoral's uniqueness and efficiency, says Nikinmaa. 

According to Nikinmaa, the collaboration will be reflected in joint marketing campaigns in Sweden during the autumn to increase the visibility of Lumoral treatment and awareness of its availability at Aqua Dental clinics. 

Our staff will also actively educate the clinic staff on the latest research findings, so that they are aware of the latest technologies and have the best knowledge available to treat patients. 

Sakari Nikinmaa, CEO of Koite Health

Niklas Virta, CEO of Aqua Dental, says the new partnership is proof that Aqua Dental is always striving to improve the dental care it offers and wants to be at the forefront of new treatment methods. 

With Lumoral, we hope to help patients with various oral diseases in a modern and effective way. Research and development is close to our heart, and Lumoral is a means to both influence and prevent the inflammatory process. This is in line with our vision to promote oral and general health, says Virta. 

We at Aqua Dental look forward to working together. 

Niklas Virta, CEO of Aqua Dental

Helén Huttunen, Product Manager at Koite Health's Stockholm office, is pleased with the new partnership as it is another step towards much needed improvement in dental health in Sweden. 

Many people suffer daily from some form of bacterial infection in their mouths and poor oral health. To succeed in oral health care, we need to change our habits and get better tools. The link between oral health and heart problems or diabetes has serious consequences. That is why daily oral health is so important. Going to the dentist for annual check-ups is also very necessary, says Huttunen. 

According to Huttunen, the oral health situation in Sweden is challenging. The same is true in other Nordic countries, where waiting lists for dental services are long and public oral health resources are scarce. 

In northern Sweden, some patients must wait up to six years for treatment. If patients knew about Lumoral, they could treat themselves at home while waiting to see their dentist. In this way, they can reduce the risk of infection and caries and prevent tooth loss. I hope that all dentists will soon know about Lumoral. 

Huttunen points out that the ageing population also brings its own challenges in maintaining oral health. 

Dental implants and other dentures place high demands on the patient's own ability to keep their teeth clean, and this becomes more challenging with ageing. Eating and smiling are basic requirements for life! Lumoral brings great help to many people. 

 

A major gingivitis research in Europe reveals a grim fact: brushing your teeth is not enough – Finnish innovation treats and prevents periodontitis efficiently

A major gingivitis research in Europe reveals a grim fact: brushing your teeth is not enough – Finnish innovation treats and prevents periodontitis efficiently

The breakthrough study shows that eliminating the bacteria contained in dental plaque should be as vital a part of dental hygiene as brushing your teeth and flossing.

HELSINKI, Finland (October 13, 2022) Europe’s largest periodontitis study is currently being carried out at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences. The first results of the three-year study indicate clearly that using the Lumoral device created by Finnish health tech company Koite Health reduces gingivitis and improves dental hygiene significantly. Lumoral utilizes an efficient antibacterial method developed by Finnish researchers that eliminates disease-causing bacteria from dental plaque.

Periodontitis, a chronic infection caused by bacteria, is a disease that affects as many as 70% of people in Western countries. Periodontitis is the sixth most common disease in the world that can also lead to other conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Infections in the mouth are mainly caused by accumulated dental plaque, that can lead to tartar buildup if not removed properly. 

Brushing and flossing isn’t enough – more than half of the participants achieved healthy gums after only three months of antibacterial treatment

The report covering the three-month results has been sent for publishing in a special edition of Dentistry Journal. The report is currently available at Preprints. The study shows that 54 percent (N=59) of participants that used Lumoral were healed from inflammation of the gums based on the BOP(bleeding on probing) index – 2.5 times more than in the control group that didn’t use the device. In the control group, only 22 percent of participants had healthy gums after three months. The participants that used Lumoral had a significantly lower amount of plaque build-up, whereas the control group still had the same amount of plaque left.

You can only remove half of the plaque by brushing your teeth – it’s no wonder cavities and gingivitis are among the most common diseases in the world. If we want to improve the results of dental care treatments, we need to focus on removing the plaque that is left on the teeth after brushing them”, says Professor Timo Sorsa from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases at the University of Helsinki.

Our hypothesis was correct: because 95 percent of dental diseases are caused by bacteria in the plaque, regularly eliminating dental plaque improves dental hygiene as well as prevents and treats dental and gum disease. The results are exceptional and prove that using Lumoral when treating gum disease makes the treatment a lot more efficient than before”, explains one of the developers of Lumoral, heart surgeon Tommi Pätilä.

Deep gum pockets can store bacteria: Lumoral removes bacteria from where your toothbrush can’t reach

In periodontitis, the advanced gum inflammation caused by plaque and tartar damages the periodontal fibers. This leads to deepening of the gum pockets. As the disease advances, the infection causes a loss of tissue, and ultimately may lead to losing one or more teeth. Periodontitis is prevalent, as up to half of over 50-year-olds suffer from the disease. Taking good care of dental hygiene is important, but in cases of chronic gum disease, the gum pockets need to be regularly cleaned by a professional. However, cleaning gum pockets with traditional methods can be difficult, which leads to more bacteria filling the pockets, thus causing further infections.

Periodontitis is often asymptomatic for a long time. Unfortunately, pain is often the first motivator to get treated”,Sorsa continues. 

The research shows that two out of three (67%) participants that used the Lumoral device were able to reduce the number of deep gum pockets by half compared to the initial situation. Four participants were able to completely eradicate deep gum pockets. The results are significantly better than the participants in the control group.

We want to permanently improve at-home dental hygiene. Before, advanced gingivitis has only been treated at the dentist, where the waiting lists are long and the treatment might be expensive. Using the Lumoral device combined with proper treatment from professionals reduces the number of infections in the mouth. Without proper at-home care, treatment done by oral health professionals is not as effective as desired, either, so using Lumoral is also beneficial for them. We expect the further results to be even better after the participants have been using Lumoral regularly for six months”, Pätilä concludes.

About the study and Lumoral

In the study carried out at Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, periodontitis is treated with the currently best-known methods that include teaching the participants a proper toothbrushing technique and providing them with new, modern electric toothbrushes. The teeth and gum pockets of all participants are cleaned properly before the study commences. After that, the participants are divided into two groups. One of the groups will use the antibacterial Lumoral method at home and the other group is a control group and won’t use the Lumoral device. The participants’ oral health is checked after three months and again after six months in total.

Both groups consist of 100 participants that already suffer from periodontitis. The research is carried out in groups of 50. In the research, every tooth is measured from six different measuring points. For example, if a participant has 25 teeth, they will have 150 measuring points in total. Bleeding gums are a sign of the periodontitis advancing and causing damage in the mouth.

The Lumoral device combines antibacterial photodynamic treatment (aPDT) with antibacterial blue light (aBL). The Lumoral method is based on the antibacterial “red” PDT-light that promotes oral health and how it activates the light-sensitive Lumorinse mouth rinse, thus creating a reaction that eliminates harmful bacteria from the mouth. There is no similar product on the market, and similar treatment has only been provided at dental clinics.

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For more information:
Tommi Pätilä
Chair of Board & co-founder
Koite Health
+358 44 013 0770

tommi@koitehealth.com 

Media kit with pictures

Koite Health

Koite Health is a Finnish health tech company whose innovation, Lumoral, based on dual-light therapy has revolutionized Finnish preventive dental care. The company's expert team consists of experienced doctors and technology experts. Founders Sakari Nikinmaa and Tommi Pätilä founded Koite Health in September 2018 with the help of the Biodesign project and the commercialization project funded by Business Finland and Aalto University.

Lumoral, developed by the company, is a teeth cleaning device that is used in addition to regular tooth brushing. The device is suitable for everyone, but is especially beneficial for those with cavities or gingivitis. Lumoral has been scientifically developed, and its antibacterial effect is well established. Lumoral is a class II medical and CE approved device, and more than 5,000 units have been sold so far.