Dental Diseases are one of the most common health problems faced by people all over the world and it is also one of the most neglected. Many have complained about the cost of a dental visit and most importantly neglect which could have easily diagnose dental diseases in an early stage. 15 to 20 percent of middle-aged adults have gum disease — especially for people with dental implants. Dental implants stabilize crowns, dentures and bridges. While useful for the 30 percent of people over age 65 without teeth, the implants can become infected with bacteria and cause peri-implant disease. Constant prescription of antibiotics could be used for treatment, but Meinel said the tactic is impractical because peri-implant disease develops over a long time frame (5 to 10 years).
But there is a simple solution to it in the form of a chewing gum which can detect oral diseases. Lorenz Meinel, a pharmacist at the University of Würzburg in Germany and senior author of the study, said, “It’s a great screening tool to help people test their health status easily”.
According the European Scientists at the Tuesday in Nature Communications. The tech could prove particularly useful for diseases that present with minimal to no symptoms.
Lorenz Meinel, said, People do not often sense pain with dental implants, so infected gums go unnoticed. Meinel needed an alternative way to get patients to sense their illness. Luckily, a mouth comes with one of the best detectors on the planet: the human tongue.
How does the Chewing Gum work to detect oral diseases:
It uses the sense of taste as its tool to detect any dental disease with the help of your tongue which is highly sensitive to taste. According to the Meinel and his team, a compound called denatonium which is termed as the taste alarm in the chewing gum and is known to be the most bitter substance known. The denatonium is diluted in the chewing gum and as an evolutionary trait to detect any poison every person is sensitive to bitterness
The denatonium acts as a biological tripwire – In case of any patient suffering from Peri-implantitis consumes or chews on this gum the denatonium molecule gets degraded by the enzymes in the disease and gives you the bitter taste giving you a sign about the peri-implant disease.
In case of patient with healthy saliva the denatonium compound does not break down or dissolve and you cannot taste the bitter taste. In case of peri-implant disease the sensor over the denatonium is dissolved and the denatonium is exposed to the taste buds which is the result of the bitter taste resulting in the bitter taste.
In healthy saliva, the biological sensor and denatonium are tasteless and do not dissolve. But, if peri-implant disease enzymes are present in the saliva, they chew away the sensor and expose the denatonium and bitter flavor.
The researchers tested the bitterness of their chewing gum to see how people might tolerate the taste. Rather than submit patients to a gross tasting excursion, the team measured the bitterness released by their chewing gum with an electronic tongue. This instrument senses sour, salty, umami and bitter flavors with electronic taste buds and measures the intensity of those flavors too. The researchers found the bitterness released by their chewing gum sensor was less than half (40 percent) that of denatonium alone.
Meinel and his team also tested the substance on patients as well, they mixed their sensor with saliva from people with peri-implant disease or saliva from asymptomatic patients with at least one dental implant. After only five minutes, peri-implant disease saliva released nearly three times more bitter compound than saliva from healthy subjects did.
According to Meinel and his team plan who are working on gum-based sensors for other infections, including ones to distinguish strep throat from sore throats caused by the flu. Although the chewing gum can be an effect diagnosing tool, only doctors or dentists can confirm a diagnosis and prescribe the best treatment for the required condition.
The chewing gum has its demerits and short comings which need to be addressed before final result is revealed. For example, taste perception varies by ethnicity, sex, age and genetics, so tolerable bitterness for one person may be unacceptable for another. Their clinical trials will zero in on a suitable bitterness level for all. He predicts it will take at least two years to complete the clinical trials for the chewing gum.