As dental imaging technology has evolved, new modalities offer dentists ways to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, radiation exposure. When this kind of important technology presents itself, dental professionals and patients take notice.
In the days of dental film, radiation exposure was reduced each time the speed of the film was increased, when X-ray machines became more advanced, and with new developments such as rectangular collimation.
When digital sensors were introduced, diagnostics were enhanced. Yet another real advantage was that radiation exposure decreased with digital radiography. In fact, in 2012 the American Dental Association stated that the digital radiography has a 40-60% reduction in exposure compared to film1. Manufacturers keep striving to reduce exposure while maintaining highly diagnostic image quality. Currently, the leader in “low-dose” is the Platinum™ sensor (DEXIS™) which offers the best and most-consistent image quality even at lower doses2.
In recent years, fluorescence caries detection such as CamX® Spectra (Air Techniques) and DIAGNOdent™ (KaVo™) offers a way for dentists to diagnose occlusal or smooth surface caries at a percent rate in the low 90s. However, there are some drawbacks. The tooth must be cleaned of all plaque and bacteria, caries is exhibited by either color codes or numeric values that required further interpretation, and neither are indicated for interproximal detection or recurrent caries around restorations or cracks3,4.
The latest advancement in caries detection is one that offers more than another diagnostic modality. Near-infrared Transillumination technology, CariVu™ (DEXIS in North America) and DIAGNOcam™ (KaVo in Europe), identifies occlusal, interproximal and recurrent carious lesions and even cracks. The units produce a highly visual image of the teeth that appears similar to an X-ray. Better yet, there is no ionizing radiation, which is a distinct advantage for all patients but especially those who are not yet due for X-rays or whose medical conditions preclude radiography, such as those who have undergone radiation treatments or pregnant women. A recent study proved that this caries detection device has a 99% accuracy rate5. Another study concluded that indeed images from these devices may serve as an alternative to bitewing radiographs since often caries can be seen at an earlier stage than on X-ray6.
As with digital X-rays and photos, CariVu images and even short video clips can be captured and saved for diagnosis, education and sharing with colleagues and insurance carriers in support of diagnostic findings and recommended treatment. Unlike X-rays, CariVu images can be captured as often as needed without the risks that come from ionizing radiation.