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Squid ink may become the secret to a better smile

It sounds fishy, but dark squid ink could become a tool to fight gum disease and give you a better smile.

Combined with a sensitive imaging method, the blue-black pigment cephalopods squirt is being used by scientists at University of California San Diego as a non-invasive way to test for bum gums. The innovation is said to be superior to the conventional method.

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Dark pigment expelled by squid is being used in dental research.

(ifish/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you’ve been to the dentist lately you know dentists’ current drill for measuring bum gums. A thin metal probe is inserted between teeth and gums. Markings on the tool measure how deep the tool goes in. The deeper the pocket, the poorer the gum health.

UC San Diego researchers claim that their inky method is superior to the standard means.

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“Using the periodontal probe is like examining a dark room with just a flashlight and you can only see one area at a time,” said Jesse Jokerst, a nanoengineering professor and senior author of the study.

Jokerst and fellow researchers have patients rinse with food-grade squid ink (the same ingredient in black pasta).

Photoacoustic/ultrasound image after squid ink oral rinse treatment.

Photoacoustic/ultrasound image after squid ink oral rinse treatment.

(Jokerst Bioimaging Lab at UC San)

It works as a contrast agent when combined with photoacoustic ultrasound. This imaging method combining light and acoustic waves enables researchers to create a full map of the pocket depth around each tooth.

“With our method,” says Jokerst, “it’s like flipping on all the light switches so you can see the entire room all at once.”

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