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Advances in dental tech can reduce failure to diagnose cases

Some elements of dentistry have remained the same for decades, even though in the modern age they seem somewhat outdated. Probing, the process in which a dentist checks for deep pockets caused by gum disease, is completed with a sharp metal rod and can be inaccurate. Considering that the most frequent reason that periodontists are sued is because of failure to diagnose, dentists and patients in Rhode Island are ready for a better solution. 

One research engineer thinks he has come up with a possible solution that will spare the rod. Squid ink can be swished in the mouth and, when heated, will swell. If there are any gum pockets, the swelling ink will create a pressure difference that can be picked up by ultrasound. The engineer thinks ultrasound technology will be less invasive and more accurate. 

The usual process of checking for pockets is unappealing for patients and hygienists alike. Poking at tender gums can make them bloody, and some hygienists and dentist will spot check if they are concerned about a patient's comfort level. This leads to possible missed diagnosis and worsening dental health. 

The technology is still likely years away from the Rhode Island market. In the meantime, a dentist still has a duty to provide the acceptable standard of care for the patient, and is responsible for finding gum disease the old way. Failure to diagnose a serious dental issue is not acceptable from a medical professional, and a person who has experienced worsening effects of gum disease due to the dentist's failure may have a claim due to his or her injury. A personal injury attorney with experience in handling medical malpractice claims may be a good resource to evaluate any dental injury cases. 

Source: PBS, "Could a mouthful of squid ink replace painful dental probes for gum disease?", Usha Lee McFarling, Sept. 10, 2017

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