Monday, July 21, 2008

Tooth Lasers Could Make Drilling a Thing of the Past [Dentophobia]


For some people, just the sound of a dental drill is enough to cause panic—but the good news is that this barbaric procedure may be a thing of the past. UK researchers have developed a technology that is based on Raman spectroscopy (a method that is currently used to identify chemicals) to spot tooth decay before it begins. A new study has determined that harmful bacteria can be detected by analyzing how light is scattered when a laser is fired at the tooth.

This method would make it possible to detect damage much faster than X-rays, nipping the problem in the bud before drilling is necessary. The testing is ongoing, but the researchers hope that the lasers could be available commercially within the next five years. Of course, you would have to actually go to the dentist on a regular basis to benefit from the procedure, so my guess is that drilling won't disappear anytime soon. [eurekalert via ZDNet]