Toronto, Canada-based Quantum Dental Technologies has developed a novel system which detects the early onset of tooth decay without the need for X-rays.
Quantum introduced its Dental Caries Detection System prototype, known as the Canary system, at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Conference in Toronto, Canada.
‘Dentists are limited in their abilities to detect and monitor the early stages of tooth decay with traditional diagnostic tools such as the X-ray and visual examination,’ said Dr Stephen Abrams, chief executive officer of Quantum Dental Technologies and dental clinician.
‘Now, with this system, we can finally move away from intervention, or the filling of cavities, to focus on prevention and actual remineralisation, or healing, of small areas of tooth decay.’
The Canary system works on the principle that laser light interacts differently with healthy teeth than with decayed teeth. Hence the Canary comprises a handheld laser that emits a low-power light that is used to examine tooth surfaces. When laser light is shone onto the tooth, the system measures the level of glow (luminescence) and heat released from the tooth.
By varying the pulse of the laser beam, a depth profile of the tooth can be created, allowing dentists to detect decay as deep as 5mm from the tooth surface and as small as 50 microns in size.
The Canary system can scan for caries on smooth enamel surfaces, root surfaces, biting surfaces, between teeth, and around existing fillings. According to the company, current methods are not as sensitive in detecting early decay in these areas.
Early detection of dental caries within the enamel shell of the tooth allows applied remineralisation therapies to halt or delay the decay. These therapies work to repair the teeth by recrystalising minerals onto the enamel surface. If detection of decay is delayed until it has broken completely through the enamel shell, remineralisation will not work and a filling is required.