The Loh Down On Science

Drill-less

A new laser technique takes the drill out of dentistry.

Take your pick: Dentist's drill? Or tiny, optical fiber!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

and with a new, PAINLESS solution to tooth decay.

The technique is called Raman spectroscopy. Infrared and ultraviolet light are beamed through a tiny optical fiber. Shine that light onto anything, and it can distinguish the chemicals within any object from each other, by showing their contrasting molecular footprints.

Although the technology has been around a while, no one ever thought of applying it to dentistry.

But researchers at King's College London realized it's the perfect cavity police. That's because the bacteria responsible for tooth decay scatter light differently than the compounds in healthy tooth enamel.

The spectroscope can detect decay in its EARLIEST stage--when it's merely a thin spot in the tooth's enamel coating that's been eroded by bacterial acid. At that point, there's no NEED for a drill.

To avoid a cavity, your dentist just needs to paint on an enamel sealant, and you're out of the dentist's chair before you can say "Rinse and spit."

But you still have to floss, people. Please.


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