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Dimitris Tatakis, DDS, PhD

Award Name CCTS Dentistry Pilot
Award Date 04/14/2009

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Surgical Delay May Improve Periodontal Surgery Outcomes

The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, in collaboration with the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), has awarded Dimitris Tatakis, PhD with funding for his proposal aimed at examining the feasibility of “surgical delay” in improving the outcomes of periodontal (gum) surgery in smokers and nonsmokers.

Tatakis, a Professor of Periodontology and Postdoctoral Program Director, has embarked on a series of projects examining the effects of smoking on the gingiva, and how the gingival response differs between smokers and nonsmokers. This particular research endeavor is pursuing whether they can find something new to help modify treatments for smokers.

“Smokers constitute a disproportionately high number of patients who come to a periodontal clinic,” said Tatakis. “Smoking is a strongly documented risk factor for gum problems, and smokers don’t usually respond as well to periodontal treatments.” Evidence shows that periodontitis is 10 times more likely in heavy smokers than nonsmokers.

The methods for this project include creating a wound in healthy gums, then following up with the subjects for two weeks afterwards. Subjects are numbed during the procedure and given pain medication as needed throughout the duration of the research. The healing process of the small flap or wound in the gums (which has been methodically placed on the side of the mouth) will help researchers identify the differences between smokers and nonsmokers and determine key characteristics that will aid in the development of the overall thesis in this series.

The questions to be answered will address whether the blood supply will be affected differently, and whether the proteins produced in the gums will differ in either case.

There is a window of gingival change during early stages of the healing process, and Tatakis wants to focus on these in particular because of the unpredictability. Based on evidence from studies in other organs and tissues, Tatakis predicts that early healing of the gingival wounds will be slower in smokers.

The study will involve 30 periodontally healthy participants, ages 18 – 50. People who qualify as smokers have smoked for five years or more, and nonsmokers have never smoked.

“We can actually intervene in the early stages [of healing],” said Tatakis, “meaning that more effective treatments can be created that target the early time window, before poor healing affects the results of conventional therapy.”

By Amy Hoover, Wednesday, May 22, 2009

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