When it comes to dental innovations, we often think that creating new techniques and treatments will stem from the birth of state-of-the-art developments. However, sometimes new techniques can blossom from simply looking at different solutions to old problems using existing tools. Such is the case with a strange new technique of using squid ink in the search for gum disease.
Inspired by finding a work-around to being prodded by sharp dental instruments during routine dental exams, researchers looked for more gentle ways to approach this unpleasant experience. By having patients swish the non-staining ink around in their mouth and viewing saturated teeth with an ultrasound, dentists could potentially have a non-invasive way to detect the differences in gum pockets which can indicate tissue and tooth loss.
Two of the hurdles researchers are facing is creating a reusable ultrasound mouthpiece and improving the taste of the salty squid ink to have a more peppermint-like flavor. However, though not yet in practice and currently undergoing clinical trials, the ink (salty or not) coupled with ultrasound, could improve the overall experience and comfort-level of dental exams.