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Dental caries and periodontitis are two of the most prevalent infectious diseases worldwide, leading to tooth decay, progressive loss of the bone and soft tissue attachment, and eventually tooth loss. These are very much underestimated compared to more traditional “deadly” infectious diseases. However, the number of affected individuals prove that this should change: 50% of the European population is suffering from periodontitis with the age group of 60-65 being most affected. These infections also constitute an enormous economic burden on global health systems, with industrialized countries spending 5-10% of their total public health expenditures on oral health.
The prevention and correct diagnosis of oral diseases is less costly and painful than eventual treatment. Therefore, it is clear that considerable attention should be given to the diagnosis and monitoring of oral diseases, meaning that new strategies need to be adopted by oral experts. These strategies include: (i) shifting the diagnostic methodology of oral infections from empirical to evidence- and molecular-based approaches, by means of bacterial identification and quantification as well as disease biomarker detection; and (ii) shifting the diagnostic location of oral diseases from centralized laboratories to the dental care setting.
The EU project DIAGORAS is working towards the implementation of disruptive changes in the diagnosis of oral diseases. The project has developed biochemical assays for 10 oral bacteria (7 for periodontitis and 3 for caries), as well as assays for 3 host response biomarkers that indicate periodontitis. DIAGORAS is also developing a portable diagnostic device that integrates the aforementioned assays, allowing dentists to perform oral healthcare diagnosis at the chair side. This has the huge potential to avoid the time-consuming and cost-intensive procedures associated with the use of central laboratory testing and provide personalized monitoring and early prevention of oral diseases.
The DIAGORAS project ends in mid 2019. Clinical samples have been collected and are analyzed with respect to their bacterial load and biomarker content. The components of the chair-side platform will be integrated and then validated in terms of sensitivity, specificity and clinical usability with the clinical cohort. The final DIAGORAS device will have the great potential to significantly enhance disease monitoring, which enables improved oral health management.
Stay tuned with us and we look forward to providing you with more detailed results after publishing our work!
Dr. Pune Paqué