Dentists using new system to detect tooth problems early on, saving you money

A trip to the dentist isn't something most people like to do, especially when it comes to filling cavities. 

But some dentists are now using a Doppler like radar system to detect tooth problems at the earliest stage.

A Doppler radar-like device, just like the ones used to forecast weather, could minimize the use of the dreaded drill, save you time, money and pain. It’s called CamX Spectra.

Here’s how it works: doctors use a scanning wand device with a camera that shines a fluorescent light on the tooth to capture any abnormalities or early signs of decay that the naked eye cannot see. The pictures then project a colored image on a screen. Based on the colors in the image, a dentist can tell where cavities are just starting to form and where cavities have already penetrated deeper into the tooth.

"Purple means healthy, red is a layer we need to be concerned on this point and orange is even deeper than that,” Dr. Graham said. "I can follow changes. If they change for worse than I know I'm going to have to restore or use drill. If they don't then I can seal area on kid or on adult, follow it and monitor it.

Dentists say it’s all about early detection and about doing as little damage to the tooth as possible. Another bonus is that patients are less likely to have to undergo x-rays, decreasing exposure to radiation.

Right now, the traditional way of detecting cavities involve using a dental pick called an Explorer, combined with x-rays.

"This is 100 years old, x-rays are 100 years old, and accuracy is 50%, that's crazy,” Dr. Graham said.

Dr. Graham says new technology is perfecting the art of dentistry, but the best line of defense always begins with brushing and flossing your teeth daily.

Not all dentists are using this Doppler dentistry because it is an expensive tool. Insurance does not cover the costs. Some doctors don't add an additional fee while some may pass the cost on to the consumer.

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