Squid ink isn’t just an escape mechanism for ocean-dwellers — it’s also a trendy pasta flavoring and potentially even a cure for cancer. But this weird combination of mucus and melanin isn’t stopping there. Lately, researchers have been studying its uses in the dental field.
How Gum Disease is Diagnosed
Gum disease may start out mild, but its long-term impact can be deadly, ranging from breast cancer to heart disease, and everything in between. That’s why it’s important to take it seriously, even in its early stages.
Most of the early symptoms of gum disease are pretty easy to spot: Red or swollen gums that bleed easily, bad breath, and as the diseases worsens, even receding gums. Gingivitis, which is the mildest form of gum disease, can be treated simply, and can even be cleared up effectively at home with good oral hygiene habits. But when it worsens and becomes periodontitis, that’s when the real problems start. It can become painful to chew, gaps can open up between your teeth, and your teeth can start to become loose. As it becomes more severe, pockets develop between your gums and your teeth to harbor bacteria. In the end, you can lose teeth if the disease isn’t treated.
To diagnose gum disease, your dentist will first look for the visible symptoms of the disease, and ask you about how your teeth and gums feel. Then, if they think it necessary, they’ll use something called a periodontal probe to determine how deep the pockets between your gums and teeth are. In a healthy mouth, there shouldn’t be pockets deeper than about three millimeters.
New research is trying to replace those probes… with squid ink.
The New Periodontal Probe: Squid Ink
Researchers from the University of California Department of Nanoengineering are looking into a way to use squid ink as a sort of mouthwash to help identify gum disease, and possibly replace the periodontal probe, which can sometimes be inaccurate due to human error.
To use the ink to diagnose gum disease, the patient would first swish a solution made with squid ink around their mouth. Capillary action would naturally draw that ink into the pockets between the teeth and gums. Your dentist shines a laser in your mouth, which is absorbed by the ink, causing it to swell. Then, an ultrasound could be used to show where the ink had been pulled, highlighting those pockets.
Squid ink is the ideal substance for this kind of test, because it’s dark enough to absorb light and show up in an ultrasound, and it’s liquid, which makes it perfectly suited to penetrate into those little pockets. Plus, since it’s already used in food, it’s perfectly safe for human mouths.
Squid ink might not be in your dentist’s office soon, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay on top of your gum health. If you’ve experienced any symptoms that sound like the early warning signs of gum disease, you should make an appointment with your dentist. They can tell you what you need to be doing to keep your oral health in tip top shape.
Are you living in Blue Bell, PA and ready to make a dentist appointment? Call