How to gain an inside view of caries using detection technology
A look at how the DEXIS CariVu works to detect caries without emitting ionizing radiation.
Technology continues to improve the way clinicians diagnose dental conditions and educate patients. The DEXIS™ CariVu™ caries detection device uses near-infrared transillumination technology in a highly visual way. The images produced appear very similar to X-rays except with an added benefit—CariVu does not emit any ionizing radiation. In the resulting images, enamel appears transparent and carious lesions as dark areas. This technology can help identify occlusal, interproximal and recurrent carious lesions and cracks.
Although it does not completely take the place of radiography in the dental practice, caries detection technology is an effective way to add an additional level of diagnostics to the comprehensive imaging process.
CariVu helps to detect decay at an earlier stage before it becomes really serious. This is especially helpful to illustrate for patients my suspicion of early caries. The images are easy for patients to understand because they can actually see the carious dark spot I point out, even in cases when it is still too small to be seen on an X-ray.
The handpiece tip has two soft flanges with NIR lights and a camera for capturing images (Fig. 1). Simply place the tip over the occlusal surface so that the flanges hug the buccal and lingual/palatal aspects of the teeth (Fig. 2) to view live video of teeth (Fig. 3). I can capture an image in one second with a squeeze on the wand. I can also capture short video clips using a “rocking” technique that actually creates a 5-second video of the tooth seen at varying directions instead of just a static image.
Fig. 2 Fig. 3
This technique gives even more information on the exact location, size and shape of the carious lesion. While it may be obvious to me that there is a caries issue in a certain spot, patients really appreciate these visuals when faced with treatment.
A recent example shows how a CariVu image can provide peace of mind to even the most doubting people. A patient arrived at my office with the problem of sensitivity on chewing. He told me that he did not think that the tooth was cracked. As a science education teacher at a local college, he felt confident in his self-diagnosis, and narrowed his problem down to one of two teeth. CariVu images showed him that in actuality, both teeth had cracks. The first CariVu image shows a crack on the mesial of tooth #3 (Fig. 4), and the second image shows cracks on the distal of tooth #3 and on the mesial of tooth #2 (Fig. 5). Of note is the dark area around the crack on #2 that represents the spreading caries that originate from the fracture. When faced with the evidence on the CariVu images, this skeptical science person now understood where his sensitivity was originating from, and he was eager to make the appointment for the appropriate repairs to those teeth.
Fig. 4 Fig. 5
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