A simple colour-changing oral strip can help detect gum disease in a patient more quickly and easily than traditional screening methods, according to researchers at Temple University.
Periodontal, or gum disease, can often result in not just tooth loss, but it has also been linked to heart disease, diabetes, blood infection, low birth-weight babies, cancer and most recently, obesity.
While screening is often costly, time-consuming and sometimes painful for the patient, the new method is much quicker and easier in detecting any problem.
A research team led by Ahmed Khocht, DDS, associate professor of periodontology at Temple's Maurice H. Kornberg School of Dentistry, tried to see the strip's effectiveness in detecting periodontal disease among 73 patients.
The patients were divided into three groups- healthy, those with gingivitis (bleeding of the gums) and those with periodontitis (bleeding of the gums and a receding gum line).
They scored colour reaction on the basis of a colour chart, and those scores were compared with scores from traditional clinical evaluation methods, such as plaque index, gingival index, attachment levels and bleeding on probing.
The researchers saw strong correlations between the numbers from these tests and the numbers from the oral strip, which indicated that the strips would be a comparable screening method.
"The strip changes from white to yellow depending on levels of microbial sulfur compounds found in the saliva. A higher concentration of these compounds means a more serious case of gum disease, and shows up a darker shade of yellow," said Khocht.
With periodontal disease considered dangerous for a person's overall health, Khocht said that it's important to have a screening method like the oral strips that are quick and easy for clinicians to use.
"The faster we can find out the disease is present, the sooner we can begin. And because the strips can change color, they can also act as a benchmark to help doctors find the right treatment for their patient and monitor their progress treatment," he said.