Microscopic Look at a Spirochete Invasion

It is always fascinating to see spirochetes popping up in microscope samples gathered from gingival material. I was going to say it is fun, and while it is exciting to see microbial action going on under the scope, it can also be disconcerting to those whose sample is being viewed.

I’d like to show you a great example of what a spirochete invasion looks like. This was gathered at our last workshop…

I posted it on the Biomedx YouTube channel, you can see it here:


These invasions typically happen in the mouth, the little buggers hide under plaque and the gum line of teeth, usually the back molars. Broadly they would be classified as Treponema denticola. The species found in the mouth are not just the denticola variety, but scaliodontum, macrodentium, oralis, intermedia, maltophilum, scranskii and vincentii as well.

Beyond the mouth they can also be colonized in the gastrointestinal tract and the vagina. And some have been found in the brains of Altzheimer’s and they have been implicated in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

And then there are the spirochetes many talk about today connected with Lyme’s. Borrelia burgdorferi is at the top of that list, although there are many tick connected species of Borrelia as well. And let’s not forget Treponema pallidum connected to syphilis, which today appears to be making a comeback.

What species one may be looking at in a microscope view is hard to discern. In the CDC video we review for class, there is a distinction between species when looking at morphology, one distinction being the number of “coils” one can count on the spirochete being viewed, however this video was made before the influx of Lyme made its appearance.

Generally, what is seen in the oral cavity is connected to periodontal issues or connections can be made to the aforementioned potential in diabetes, Altzheimer’s and cardio risk.

And it is here where the use of a microscope in a health care environment for client education is second to none.

There are going to be a large number of clients that walk into your facility (if you are a practitioner) that are going to have this risk. Yet, if you do not have this tool at your disposal, how will you know?

You won’t know.

You will be missing a really large avenue for potential pathology that is sitting under your nose. Well actually it is sitting under their nose, but you won’t see it if you don’t look for it. And you should be looking because it is a huge pathway to disease.

It is also one of the biggest motivators to client compliance you’ve ever seen as nothing gets one’s attention more than actually seeing what is lurking in one’s own dark spaces.

Phase contrast microscopy is the ideal way to look at these spirochetes along with the biofilms that often accompany them. In phase contrast there is an infinite gray shading ability to highlight biofilm variation that you just can’t get with dark field, and to get stellar imaging you don’t need to hassle with messy oil objectives either.

And then there is the 3D view.

With our microscope systems (which you can see on our website) there is also the 3D perspective that you can shift to with the universal condenser to further delineate what is in the plasma. I will have a future newsletter on this, but briefly, biofilm often has cell wall deficient bacteria mixed in.

There is an interesting phenomena with the 3D view. Cells with walls will be convex in appearance. Yet you will observe in some samples, morphological forms that are concave in appearance where there appears to be no cell wall bulging out of the plasma sample, ergo, a cell wall deficient form. If you have a Biomedx scope, check it out next time you are looking at a blood sample.

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