The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) has received a four-year award of $2.4m from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the usage of antibiotics for periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease.

To be carried out by UT Health San Antonio in partnership with the American Dental Association Science & Research Institute (ADASRI), the clinical trial will assess antibiotics along with various other therapies to treat gum disease.

The NIH unit National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research-funded trial intends to generate real-world data on therapies for periodontal disease that are supplemented by the usage of antibiotics, also called adjunctive antibiotic therapy. 

It will enrol 1,050 periodontal patients who get dental care in practices in the US.

Over 30 clinicians belonging to the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN) will collect the necessary data for the trial.

The clinicians will provide clinical and patient-experience findings on the efficacy of the antibiotics they administer.

The information could be utilised for developing evidence-based clinical recommendations that provide alternative therapies and promote antibiotic stewardship.

Anticipated to begin next year, the randomised trial will treat periodontal patients, who will be followed up for nearly a year.

Furthermore, the clinical trial will allow the usage of updated periodontal disease classification from the American Academy of Periodontology to diagnose periodontal disease and peri-implantitis.

Peri-implantitis is an inflammation of gum tissues around the dental implants.

UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry periodontics associate professor Georgios Kotsakis said: “With the current rise of superbugs, which are multi-resistant bacteria that kill tens of thousands of Americans every year due to antibiotic resistance, there is a critical need to determine if specific patient populations benefit from adjunctive antibiotics. 

“This new trial is expected to have a major impact on reducing antibiotic misuse in dentistry, which contributes to antibiotic resistance.”