New Tool to Prevent Tooth Decay

Preventative treatment is usually the first line of defense against disease, and with the help of modern technology, many individuals are taking advantage of the ability to assess their risk for developing a medical condition.  Famous actress, Angelina Jolie, has recently been in the news for such treatment.  After undergoing a series of tests, the Hollywood starlet discovered that she was at high risk for developing an aggressive type of breast cancer.  In a difficult decision, Jolie chose to undergo a double mastectomy to avoid the sometimes fatal disease.  Testing to predict risk is becoming more available in all areas of medicine, not excluding dentistry.  In fact, a recent Dental Tribune article describes a brand new device that helps to assess the risk of developing dental caries, one of the most common oral diseases associated with other, often serious medical conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental caries, also called cavities, is the most common chronic disease in children between the ages of 6 and 19 in the United States.  The World Health Organization claims that up to 90% of schoolchildren and almost 100% of adults around the world have cavities.  It’s hard to believe that with a disease so prevalent around the globe, there hasn’t been a test to determine risk, until now.  Recently, CariFree, a caries research company and Dr. Michael Krochak, a New York-based dentist, teamed up to develop the first screening device that gives dental practitioners the ability to measure the bacteria known to cause cavities in patients’ mouths.  The device, called the CariScreen, uses a swab of an individual’s lower central teeth to determine the statistical likelihood that they will develop tooth decay in the near future.   The test results are available in seconds, allowing the dentist to immediately counsel their patient about appropriate actions regarding their oral health.  According to Krochak, the only available means of managing dental caries up to this point has been by working backwards, drilling out effecting areas and repairing with fillings.  This is the first preventative chair-side tool available, and the creators are hoping that professionals will be able to use it to halt and potentially reverse the current tooth decay trend.

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