According to this latest news, a team of scientists from University of Liverpool won an award for developing an ingenious and innovative dental device that can identify early tooth decay and plaque much before it is visible to the human eye. This device is cleverly named "iDENTifi".
The device has a clinical digital camera which incorporates Qualitative Light Induced Fluorescence (QLF) technology to take images of the mouth using blue light and special filters which can show up cavities and plaque. These images are transferred using the wireless technology to a computer, laptop, iPad or any other such electronic device that supports the wireless technology, which allows immediate assessment and evaluation by a dental care professional.
Image Source: (http://users.forthnet.gr/ath/abyss/dep1211.htm) Stained Dental Plaque on Teeth Using Disclosing tablets.
iDENTifi manages to show up early stages of plaque, secondary cavities and even freshly beginning tiny cavities that can occur on any of the tooth surfaces. Secondary cavities form beneath fillings and are difficult to detect in a radiograph, specially in the early stages. More importantly, the device helps in identifying more mature and potentially damaging plaque without resorting to the current methods using unsightly dyes or disclosing agent. Therefore, the use of this device has the immense potential in preventive dentistry, wherein the dentist can change the patient's dental care and dietary behavior well in time to prevent the formation of cavities or onset of gum disease. "iDENTifi will be of particular benefit to orthodontic patients to highlight plaque left behind after cleaning as this is more difficult with orthodontic appliances in the mouth"
Professor Sue Higham from the Department of Health Services Research and School of Dentistry said: "Winning a prestigious Medical Futures Award is a great honour and proves that iDENTifi is not only highly innovative but, importantly, has real commercial and market potential. Winning this award will give us access to business expertise and networks which will help iDENTifi secure the recognition and investment needed to become a viable dental healthcare product."
According to the statistics given in this news report, "Tooth decay is one of the most widespread health problems in the UK. More than half (55%) of adults in the UK have one or more decayed teeth and it is particularly common in children and young adults, fueled by an increased frequency of consuming sugars in the diet and poor dental hygiene. It is estimated that between 52% and 77% of children aged eight to 15 have some obvious tooth decay in their permanent teeth and in young people alone £45 million is currently being spent every year on the problem."
Plaque is a microfilm comprised of bacteria and food particles that gets accumulated on the surfaces of the teeth and is the common cause for both tooth decay as well as periodontal problems. Therefore, it is understandable that one should be able to identify this plaque before it can cause serious damage and thereby prevent the formation of cavities or inflammation of the gums that causes bleeding gums. This device promises to be a boon to preventive dentistry and will help to improve the oral health of the community.
"iDENTifi has been developed by a team from the University in collaboration with dental healthcare developers Inspektor Research Systems BV. The original concept for the device began over a decade ago when the Liverpool team wished to incorporate QLF technology into clinical SLR cameras."
The device is still undergoing clinical trials and a launch is anticipated in summer 2012.