Keeping A Healthy Smile
Laser Can Find Cavities Early
BOSTON, Updated 6:47 p.m. EDT September
19, 2000 -- Dentists are using a new technology that can detect a weakness
in a tooth before it becomes a cavity. That could mean no more Novocain shots
and no more drills.
Laser Cavity Detector
The device is a compact
diode laser used to identify areas of tooth decay that
traditional means, including X-rays, miss.
Diagnodent shines a laser
beam down into the tooth, to a depth of 2.5 mm.
The device is aimed into
the grooves of teeth, providing a decay reading to the dentist.
Rick Lane, DDS
Diagnodent is used by Dr.
To schedule an
NewsCenter 5's Heather Kahn reports that
Diagnodent is a new laser which finds hard-to-spot areas of tooth decay.
"It puts out a laser beam down into the
tooth, and that light reflects back towards the laser," Dr. Tom Orent of the
Center for Esthetic Dentistry said. "If there's decay, there's a change in the
wavelength. You get a reading from zero to 100 and are able to tell not only
where the decay is, but how deep it is, how much decay there is."
Orent said that regular dental exams and
X-rays can miss as much as three-quarters of decay. One Swiss study showed that
dental exams using a pick detected 57 percent of problems, while Diagnodent
caught 90 percent of decay.
"Certainly we'll see decay if it's large,
but it's too late," Orent said. "At that point, you're looking at a very
difficult restoration, a large filling or in some cases even root canal."
catching the decay early, dentists have a number of tools that can get rid of
it, without Novocain or drilling. Other dentists say that more research is
needed before Diagnodent is used in most dental offices, but they do agree that
the technique is an exciting adjunct to X-rays and examination.
"The thing I like about it and is
promising is that it is not invasive," Dr. Fred Boustany of Boston Dental said.
"It provides object measurement of the decay inside the tooth."
That's good enough to keep patient
Rosemary Casey smiling.
"I think it's great, because you want to
keep your teeth as long as you can," Casey said.
Diagnodent is FDA-approved.