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Chewing Gum Used To Help Diagnose Peri-Implant Disease

A pharmaceutical research team at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany, has designed a chewing gum-based test for assessing inflammation in the oral cavity.


A pharmaceutical research team at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany, has designed a chewing gum-based test for assessing inflammation in the oral cavity. The paper, “Diagnosing Peri-Implant Disease Using the Tongue as a 24/7 Detector,” featured in Nature Communications, explains sensory chewing gums target the tongue, allowing diagnosis by “anyone, anywhere, anytime.” In the presence of inflammatory conditions, specific protein-degrading enzymes are activated; these enzymes break down an ingredient in the chewing gum, releasing a bittering agent. Patients then visit the dentist, who confirms the diagnosis and provides treatment. It’s believed that early detection may lead to more effective interventions for peri-implant disease.

The team tested the sensor by incubating it in saliva from healthy controls (asymptomatic subjects with at least one dental implant) and subjects with peri-implant disease. The samples were compared using a chairside test measuring matrix metalloproteinase (specifically, MMP-8) activity from sulcular fluid sampled from the gingival pocket, and a protease activity test that measures salivary properties. Investigators report the sensor rivaled a chairside test in terms of discriminative potential among healthy and diseased subjects. It also offers the advantages of using saliva (rather than sulcular fluid) to detect inflammation, plus a rapid read-out (results are available in 10 minutes). In addition, the sensor performed better than the commercially available test measuring protease activity from saliva. Based on these results, human trials are planned.

From Decisions in Dentistry. December 2017;3(12):9.

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