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We are fortunate to live in an era of rapid advances in all fields of visualization technology. CT scans and lasers are the new buzzwords in the world of disease detection and have now found their place in dental care.


Traditionally, dental cavities have been detected by the naked eye, the tactile feel of an explorer or by radiographs (X-rays). Digital radiographs improved the detection of caries which causes cavities. However, newer faster and smarter technologies are at hand today. Laser-assisted cavity detection has become the norm that provides value and comfort to dentistry.


A hand-held cordless device, as small as a pen, shines a laser beam 2.5 mm down a tooth. The light reflects back onto a probe. If decay is present, an audible as well as digital signal informs you of the presence of a cavity. It also instructs you on the severity or extent of the process and suggests treatment options.

This miracle pen works on the principle of differing fluorescence between healthy and diseased tooth structure, without any radiation hazards. Easy to use and with a minimal learning curve, this laser works with a 90 per cent accuracy level.


The use of laser is not restricted only to detection. High-tech dentists are using them to treat cavities and gum diseases as well. Lasers are a safe, pain-free alternative to conventional dental tools. They require minimal or anesthetic, and eliminate the need for the drill in a majority of cases. A high intensity laser beam can remove, vaporize or shape soft tissues like clay in the hands of a potter, almost painlessly with almost no need for an injection. In fact, lasers are set to replace the scalpel as a painless and non-infective cutting tool that causes very little to almost no bleeding.

The modern dental clinic has morphed into a sci-fi technology haven, without the traditional sounds and scare of the drill, and pain and fear of the anesthetic.

Published on – Sunday, 17th August 2008, Page 5, Bombay Times, Times of India.

Techy Tools for your Teeth by Dr. Suchetan Pradhan