New tool to detect early signs of plaque build-up

January 17th, 2009 - 4:56 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 17 (IANS) A new dental probe developed by scientists will detect the very earliest signs of plaque build-up.The toothbrush-sized product has a blue light at its tip, which, when shone around the mouth and viewed through yellow glasses with a red filter, allows plaque to be seen easily as a red glow.

Dentists currently use disclosing agents in tablet form to uncover tooth decay and plaque but these often stain the mouth and taste unpleasant.

Sue Higham, professor at the Liverpool University School of Dental Sciences, who led the study, said: “It is extremely difficult to get rid of all plaque in the mouth. Left undisturbed it becomes what we call ‘mature’ plaque and gets thicker. This is what leads to gingivitis, or bleeding gums, and decay.”

“Early stage plaque is invisible, and so this device will show people the parts of the mouth that they are neglecting when they brush their teeth, enabling them to remove plaque before it becomes a problem,” she said.

“Inspektor TC is designed so that people can easily incorporate it into their daily dental hygiene routine at home. We now hope to work with industry partners to develop this prototype so that people can use it in the home to identify plaque before any serious dental work is needed.”

Children in Britain have had an average of 2.5 teeth filled or removed by the age of 15 because of tooth decay. For young people alone, 45 million pounds is currently being spent every year on the problem, said a Liverpool release.

The team has now received a Medical Futures Innovation Award for the product - a commendation which acknowledges significant innovation in science.

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