New imaging technology helps detect early tooth decay
AUGUST 9--A diagnostic imaging instrument that uses light, not x-ray, to safely detect early tooth decay that cannot be seen radiographically or visually--Difoti--has been launched by Electro-Optical Sciences Inc. (EOS; Irvington, NY; www.eo-sciences.com).
AUGUST 9--A diagnostic imaging instrument that uses light, not x-ray, to safely detect early tooth decay that cannot be seen radiographically or visually--Difoti--has been launched by Electro-Optical Sciences Inc. (EOS; Irvington, NY; www.eo-sciences.com). EOS is a medical-technology company that develops and manufactures diagnostic imaging instruments for the early detection of cancers and other diseases in human tissue.
For the past century, dentists have been using radiographic (x-ray) imaging to detect caries, the precursors to cavities. That technology has two major shortcomings. First, most caries revealed by x-rays are sufficiently advanced that they require surgical intervention: drilling out the decay and filling in the cavity. Second, x-ray imaging uses ionizing radiation, presenting potential health risks to children, pregnant women, and women of childbearing age. "Difoti improves dentists' diagnostic reliability while improving their productivity," said Dr. Marek Elbaum, EOS president and CEO. "It has the potential to become the industry standard for practicing minimally invasive and preventive dentistry," he added.
In the patented mouthpiece of the new instrument, a single fiberoptic cable delivers light to one of a tooth's smooth surfaces. As this light travels through layers of enamel and dentin, it scatters in all directions toward the nonilluminated surfaces. The light is then directed through the mouthpiece to a miniature electronic CCD camera in the handpiece. The camera digitally images the light emerging from the various surfaces of the teeth, displays the images on a computer monitor in real time, and stores the images on the hard drive for easy retrieval. Image acquisition is controlled with user-friendly software and a foot pedal. A hygienist can take a full-mouth set of high-resolution Difoti images in a matter of minutes without exposing the patient to any ionizing radiation.