Doppler technology tracks tooth decay

New device helps dentists find hidden cavities

Doppler technology tracks tooth decay

New device helps dentists find hidden cavities

Doppler radar technology used by meteorologists across the country to save lives is now saving teeth, thanks to a new dental device called Spectra.

"It's a pretty cool little device," said Dr. Sheila Naik, a dentist in Glendale, AZ.
 
Similar to what you'd see on a radar screen to track severe weather, these trouble spots point to cavities.  Some are small enough a dentist could miss with traditional tools.
 
"It gives me evidence as to whether there is a cavity there for sure or not," Naik said.
 
If left undetected, blue spots, which show early signs of tooth, decay could turn into more severe oranges and yellows.
 
"By that time, you're going to need a shot, you're going to need a deeper filling.  I'm going to have to take more of your tooth structure out," Naik said.
 
Naik has been using the technology for just over two years, but she says none of her colleagues use the device.  She says it's a chance to be pro active and help her patients before it's too late and she has to use the dreaded drill.
 
Many dentists use x-rays to detect cavities between teeth while Spectra focuses on the chewing surface and unlike x-rays, Spectra uses a blue fluorescent light, not radiation, to analyze the tooth.  
 
"It not only shows you where the cavity is present, but also how deep it is," Naik said.  "I love my gadgets, especially when they help my patients."
 
One of her patients is Jennifer Pletcher. 
 
"I think it's nice because I don't have to wait until I'm in pain," she said.
 
And it's a more visual way to see what's going on inside her mouth.
 
 "They can all relate to the weather patterns and the Doppler radar technology," Naik said.
 
The Doppler like device was recently FDA approved and costs about $5,000, but Naik doesn't charge her patients any extra. 
 
"She can see everything.  It's like a detective in there," Pletcher said.
 
She's one patient who's happy to have a dentist who puts her money where her mouth is.
 
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