The PerioChip – the size of a baby’s fingernail – is inserted directly into infected periodontal pockets in the gums that are 5 millimeters or greater in depth, following scaling and root planing to remove plaque and calculus deposits. One of the most common medical conditions in the US is gum disease. According to the American Dental Association, three out of four adult Americans have some form of gum disease and about 25 million adults suffer from serious periodontal disease. But the fear of long, painful hours in the dentist’s chair – and the prospect of dental surgery – keeps many people from getting it treated.
However, since its approval by the Food and Drug Administration five years ago, an innovative Israeli product called the PerioChip is becoming increasingly common component of dental care in the United States – and around the world – as a way to prevent surgery.
Gum disease – known as periodontitis is caused when inflammation or infection of the gums is untreated or treatment is delayed. Infection and inflammation spreads from the gums to the ligaments and bones that support the teeth causing pockets to form. Loss of support causes the teeth to become loose and eventually fall out, and therefore gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults.
The PerioChip, the first biodegradable delivery system for reducing pocket depth in adult periodontitis, is designed as an adjunctive therapy to the deep cleaning of the teeth that is commonly used to fight periodontitis.
The Periochip is perhaps one of the most thoroughly Israeli items in the world, explained one of its inventors.
“It is one of the few products that was invented in Israel, underwent clinical trials in Israel, is being manufactured and produced in Israel, and is sold and marketed worldwide by an Israeli company,” Dr. Doron Steinberg told ISRAEL21c.
Steinberg, together with Prof. Aubrey Soskolny, Prof. Michael Sela, and Prof. Michael Friedman – all of the Hebrew University Medical School – invented the PerioChip. This accomplishment – the result of ten years of research and work by the four scientists – won them one of the university’s top honors, the Kaye Innovation Award.
The PerioChip – the size of a baby’s fingernail – is inserted directly into infected periodontal pockets in the gums that are 5 millimeters or greater in depth, following scaling and root planing to remove plaque and calculus deposits.
It takes less than one minute to insert the PerioChip into the periodontal pocket, and it stays in place, releasing chlorhexidine, an antimicrobial agent.
“The other big advantage is that it degrades by itself and you don’t have to go back to the periodontist to remove it, which saves time, money and bother,” said Steinberg.
The chip does not visibly stain teeth or alter taste perception, and its insertion is painless and requires no anesthesia. It can be used as often as every three months, he added.
Large multi-center clinical studies have shown that the use of the PerioChip with scaling and root planing resulted in significantly greater reduction of periodontal pockets compared with scaling and root planing alone, and had a significant impact on patient’s treatment plans, including the possibility of treating a patient non-surgically rather than surgically.
“It was a whole new idea,” recalls Steinberg. “We knew that the periodontal pocket was a very defined micro-environment that is easy to access. Treating patients with oral antibiotics that traveled throughout their bodies didn’t do much. So we decided to explore the use of a degradable slow-release device.”
Hebrew University’s technological arm – Yissum – commonly patents and helps bring to market new technologies from the halls of the university, and the PerioChip was one of its pioneer products and one of its first major successes.
Steinberg noted that it has become “a wonderful tool for treating the teeth of disabled people who, for whatever reason, cannot be anaesthetized and undergo surgery. Their periodontal problems can be treated in a way that is quick and not painful. Instead of requiring them to sit at the dentist with an open mouth for half an hour, the insertion can take average of 30 seconds.”
The PerioChip is manufactured by the Dexcel Pharma Group which is headquartered in Israel and operates wholly owned subsidiaries in the US, Germany and the UK. The company’s 155,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art production facility in central Israel and an additional manufacturing plant in Jerusalem utilize highly advanced automation and computerization technologies.
While its most widespread use is in Israel, it’s becoming popular in the US, and working its way across Europe. Steinberg said that the fact that it does not contain antibiotics is considered an advantage, with concern increasing about antibiotic resistance.
“I feel proud when I go visit family in America and they tell me that their dentist is using the PerioChip,” says Steinberg. “I feel as if I’ve really made a contribution. The chip prevents diseases and it’s very quick to insert, involving far less pain than periodontal surgery and the side effects of it are very minimal.”