Down below the gum line

A device that painlessly detects and measures tooth sensitivity is being commercially developed by a University of Leeds company.

The company – D-Sense – was launched this week backed by an initial £250,000 equity investment by the White Rose Technology Seedcorn Fund (WRTSF).

Tooth sensitivity affects around 20% of the UK population and is due to the exposure of dentine on the root surface of the tooth below the gum line, which is linked by minute tubes directly to the nerve.

The dentine can become hypersensitive to hot, cold or sweet stimuli. Not all of the dentine is sensitive, making it impossible for a dentist to identify problem areas by visual inspection. Left untreated, the condition can cause irreversible damage to the nerve of the tooth.

The new device, based on a diagnostic technique patented by Professor Neil Meredith from the University’s Dental Institute, will measure the permeability of the dentine by means of a small sterile probe held against the surface of the tooth. The probe measures electrical impedance, painlessly identifying areas and scale of sensitivity, so that the appropriate treatment can be selected.

Chairman of D-Sense, Dr David Belford, said: ‘The technology is proven and initial trials have been successful. We are confident of commercial success backed by further equity investment later in the year.’

Professor Meredith, founder and Managing Director, added that: ‘Our new probe will take just a few seconds to accurately detect and assess sensitive areas so that the patient can be treated appropriately as soon as possible.’