Your Next Dental Exam Might Use Squid Ink

Your Next Dental Exam Might Use Squid InkRight now, doctors, dentists, and medical researchers are looking for better and more accurate ways to check your teeth for cavities, gum disease, and other common issues. After all the ways we have right now may work well enough, but we can always find a better way.

Squid ink contains melanin, which is the chemical that makes the ink black and darkens human skin. And while eating squid sounds freaky to a lot of people, squid ink is perfectly safe for people to eat and some Japanese dishes use it as a kind of sauce.

With a mouth rinse that uses a little squid ink, the melanin will coat your teeth and gums, and since melanin absorbs light in order to be black a dentist can shine a laser on your gums and make them heat up and swell a little. This makes it easier for someone to use an ultrasound device to check your gums for disease. The squid ink will also stain your teeth, but it comes right off with a quick brushing, a brushing you’ll get right away since this is only for dental checkups.

The reason this is an important development is because the only way to detect gum disease now is to poke the gums with metal picks. That’s uncomfortable for patients, and since every dentist and hygienist has a different technique they also have different success rates when looking for gum disease. Using ultrasound could make it much easier to find infected gums.

Still, many dentists and patients may still prefer the old way of doing things even if the squid-ink rinse turns out to work perfectly. This is because the old way is sure to be less expensive than a rinse and ultrasound, and while dental costs are low compared to medical costs, they’re still worth thinking about for many dental patients.

Squid ink isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of dental hygiene, but it just might make things easier for dentists looking for gum disease. The technology is still in development right now and it still might be years before it catches on, but don’t be surprised if somewhere down the line a squid ink rinse appears at your local dentist’s office.