Not long after posting our recent item on the use of lasers in treating TMD, we ran across info on another application of lasers in dentistry:

A new technology that spots tooth decay almost as soon as it’s begun promises to reduce the need for drilling and filling. Drilling is one of the top dental phobias and puts thousands of people off visiting their dentist every year.

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It detects decay simply and painlessly by pointing a tiny optical fibre at the tooth to check on its health.

A preliminary study at King’s College London, where the technique is being developed, found that chemical changes in the tooth could be detected by analysing how light is scattered when a laser is fired at the tooth. Researchers were able to tell healthy teeth from carious teeth because bacteria, responsible for the decay, scatter light in a different way to healthy teeth.

Frances Downey, a PhD student working on developing the technique at King’s College London, said: ‘The earlier you spot decay the better as you can remineralise the area so there is no cavitation and therefore no need for a filling.’ (Science Daily)

Dr. Verigin’s opinion?

“These instruments appeal to dentists because they are gadget-driven. They create more revenue by overdiagnosing and overtreating.

“I see clients who have been diagnosed with cavities by other dentists who recommend fillings, when in reality, there are no cavities – just blemishes on the teeth that require no treatment. Now if you have a high-tech instrument that lights up the tooth and declares those blemishes to be cavities, the unsuspecting client may be convinced and go through with unnecessary treatment. A dental practice could generate a lot of revenue in this way.”

As ever, the best dentistry is the least dentistry – true preventive care that, along with the client’s good lifestyle choices and oral hygiene, helps that person keep all of their natural teeth for a lifetime.


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2 responses to “How Much Dentistry Is Too Much?”

  1. Well it does have a good side too, rather than waiting for complete tooth decay or cavities now we can detect the defects at an early stage. But as you said the overdiagnosis and overtreating would definitely follow the process.

  2. Good point. At bottom, of course, any technology is neutral. How we use it is key.


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