How is periodontitis or peri-implantitis diagnosed? In general, you’ll visit your dentist — perhaps for a regular checkup, or maybe with complaints of bleeding and painful gums — and they’ll look for signs of inflammation like red or swollen gums, receding gums, bad breath, or even loose teeth or visible pus if the infection has progressed far enough.
You can check your own gums for symptoms, but questions like “how red is too red?” and “how easily do healthy gums bleed?” may prevent you from accurately self-diagnosing. But in the next few years, that could change… thanks to a new chewing gum being developed in Germany.
The Dangers of Oral Inflammation
Inflammation around a dental implant or natural tooth is caused by bacteria. These bacteria get in between the gums and the tooth and start destroying the soft tissue and bone. As this progresses, pockets are formed in the gums that harbor these bacteria and encourage their growth.
When this happens around your real teeth, it’s called gum disease, known to your dentist as periodontitis, and it could result in your teeth becoming loose, or even falling out. When it happens around a dental implant, it’s called peri-implantitis, and it’s the leading cause of dental implant failure. And that isn’t all. Gum disease can impact your overall health, too. In fact, it doubles your risk of stroke and may increase your risk of dementia and cancer.
New Chewing Gum Could Help with Diagnosis
Of course, you can’t get treatment for gum disease if you don’t know you have it. That’s why researchers at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany are developing a special kind of chewing gum.
This gum doubles as a diagnostic test designed to identify inflammation. While the gum is being chewed, it is exposed to the enzymes in your mouth. If the conditions of your mouth include inflammation, there are specific protein-degrading enzymes that will be present. The chewing gum contains an ingredient that is activated by these enzymes. When that ingredient is activated, the gum will begin to taste bitter. This will indicate to the chewer that inflammation is present in their mouth.
This chemical process will all happen within five minutes of chewing, making this diagnostic test easy and fast to perform at home. The creators are hoping that the simplicity of the process will make it easy for people to detect periodontitis and peri-implantitis early, and get the treatment they need before the disease gets worse.
The gum is still being developed, so it won’t be available commercially for a few years. Until then, it’s important that you monitor your own mouth for symptoms of gum disease. If you recently obtained dental implants, it’s even more important to keep a close eye on your gums and make sure bacteria haven’t taken hold. If you have gum disease, you’re not alone — an estimated 64.7 million Americans are suffering from some form of gum disease right now. Unfortunately, South Carolina is in the top 10 states for gum disease. And it doesn’t have to progress and wreak havoc in your mouth. Gum disease is completely treatable. Call (803) 781-9090 or contact us online to make an appointment with a Columbia, SC dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry and learn more about your options.