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A team of Finnish dentists, doctors, chemists, semiconductor specialists, biomedical scientists and geneticists have successfully developed an entirely new type of antibacterial method for dental hygiene.

The effect of the product is based on antibacterial photodynamic reaction, where light activates the antibacterial effect of the mouthwash. Without light, the mouthwash has no effect. The photodynamic reaction is known in dentistry, but its practical implementation has been cumbersome and expensive. 

In Aalto University extensive, long-term research project, the method has been completely dismantled and systematically rebuilt. Initially, the chemists examined the crystalline form of the indocyanine green molecule. The indocyanine green molecule acts as a sensitizer in the photodynamic reaction. It is well known and acknowledged in dentistry and medical applications.

The format of the indocyanine green was modified to adhere tightly to the plaque. Particular attention was paid to the attachment to the microscopic plaque to treat the problematic bacterial ecology of periodontal patients. Finding the optimal format required the re-development of the entire synthesis of the complex molecule. 

Re-synthesising the ICG molecule was followed by a focus on semiconductor technology to develop new types of light sources. Laser light was discarded at an early stage due to the weakness and impracticality of light production in laser technology. A wide variety of light sources were created by modelling the chemical elements of the light-forming surface of LEDs. The team of biochemists and bioengineers investigated the differences in their effect on bacterial biofilms in a bacterial laboratory located on the Aalto University campus. A surprising invention was the dual-light LED components’ exceptional ability to affect bacteria. This effect is particularly interesting in biofilms, where the effectiveness of all antibacterial treatments is known to be poor.  

The most significant research findings on the subject are currently being published. The publications compare the effects of different light sources on Streptococcus mutans biofilms. 

The most exciting result so far, however, has been the ability of the dual-power light to maintain its power despite continuous use systematically. This quality has been the weakness of the conventional photodynamic method. 

A Team of Viikki Genetics and Genomics Research program in Helsinki University is currently analyzing the genetic features of the dual-light action in the Streptococcus mutans bacteria. The phenomenon originates to the effect of the antibacterial blue light on the porphyrin and flavin molecules of the bacteria. The simultaneous action of blue light with an exogenously administered photosensitizer prevents bacterial stress response. The first clinical trials were conducted with red light and indocyanine green in dental students in split-mouth randomization, where the method was found to reduce plaque development significantly.  It had a powerful effect of reducing the proportion of both cariogenic and periodontal bacteria in the plaque. 

The study demonstrated for the first time the effectiveness of MMP-8 measurement as a measure of early gingivitis. The method reduced the amount of MMP-8. The preservation of bacterial diversity on the plaque was an exciting finding. This was very likely a result of the targeted nature of the action. The effect was primarily targeted to the biofilm surface, leaving the general bacterial strain in the mouth at rest.