ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Barefoot Lifestyle Has Its Dangers
CANCER
Quitting Smoking Doubles Survival in Early Stage Lung Cancer
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
CAREGIVING
Moms Who Breast-Feed Less Likely to Neglect Child
Critically Ill Patients Lack Vitamin D
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Vitamins Do Older Women Little Good
COSMETIC
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
DENTAL, ORAL
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
DIET, NUTRITION
DASH Diet Has Extra Benefits for Women's Health
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
City Kids Find the Breathin' Is Easier Elsewhere
As Earth Warms, Lyme Disease Could Flourish
Accumulated Lead May Affect Older Women's Brains
EYE CARE, VISION
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
FITNESS
Simple Exercise Precautions To Help Keep Baby Boomers Fit
Exercise 30 Minutes a Day? Who Knew!
Super Bowl Loss Can 'Kill' Some Fans
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Healthy Eating While On Vacation
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
Frequent Feedings May Be Making Babies Fat
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
The Unmedicated Mind
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Mind Exercise Might Help Stroke Patients
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Add your Article

Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start

FRIDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Using lasers to spot troubled teeth before cavities form, researchers hope to turn the dentist's drill into a relic of the 20th century.

The technology, called "Raman spectroscopy" (RS), is not brand new. In fact, scientists in other fields have long been using it to distinguish between various chemicals, based on their unique molecular fingerprints.

But this is the first time RS has been used to identify teeth in the very earliest stages of decay, the British research team said.

"The technique we are working with can tell the difference between [healthy] enamel and decaying enamel, and so in the future, if this technology is further developed, a dentist could identify early decay using it," explained study co-author Frances Downey, a graduate student with the Biomaterials, Biomimetics & Biophotonics Research Group operating out of the Dental Institute of King's College London.

Results of what Downey and her colleagues refer to as a "preliminary" effort were reported at the Microscience 2008 conference held recently in London.

The new approach to cavity prevention might be available for practical use five years down the road, Downey said. For the moment, work has been conducted solely with already extracted teeth, rather than with actual patients.

Researchers took advantage of the fact that cavities develop when the acids produced by microorganisms found in dental plaque begin to demineralise tooth enamel and produce distinct chemical changes.

By focusing RS optical fibers on individual teeth, the authors were able to track the unique light patterns that emanate from chemical compositions on either healthy or decaying enamel.

Theoretically, such a process could quickly spot tooth decay at a much earlier stage than the current screening standard, which is based on visual exams and X-rays.

The result of such early detection might be cavity prevention, not repair, the researchers said. In essence, sites of decay could be rematerialized with medicinal mouthwashes and fluoride varnishes, preventing the development of full-blown cavities and eliminating the need for dental drilling.

Study supervisor Dr. Frederic Festy said that larger studies involving patients are in the planning stages.

"However, that is not to say dentist drills would become obsolete," said Downey. She and her team noted that, in its current form, the screening procedure would be both expensive and time-consuming. "I think there will always be those of us who like our sweets a bit too much, and visit the dentist too infrequently, to keep them in business," she said.

But Charlie Brown, national counsel for Consumers for Dental Choice, based in Washington, D.C., hailed the innovation as an "excellent development."

"Anything that means that there might be fewer filling materials used in the mouth is a tremendously positive development," Brown said. "I salute any technology that will scan the mouth and prevent cavities before they occur, so we can try to have the least intervention in the mouth as possible."

-Alan Mozes

More information

There's more on dental cavities at the American Dental Association.



SOURCES: Frances Downey, Ph.D. candidate, Biomaterials, Biomimetics & Biophotonics Research Group, Dental Institute, King's College London, U.K.; Charlie Brown, national counsel, Consumers for Dental Choice, Washington, D.C.; June 2008 Microscience 2008 conference, London

Last Updated: Aug. 22, 2008

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