Behind the scenes look at The Canary System caries detection device

Dental Products ReportDental Products Report-2013-09-01
Issue 9

It all started about 12 years ago, when Dr. Stephen Abrams just wasn’t having a good week chairside. 

It all started about 12 years ago, when Dr. Stephen Abrams just wasn’t having a good week chairside. 

He was struggling with diagnosing pit and fissure caries, and was beyond frustrated. He mentioned this frustration to a patient, Dr. Andreas Mandelis, who happened to be a physicist and thought he may have the solution.

Using technology that imaged crystal structures and was already in use in the computer industry, they could develop a detection aid designed to spot cracks and caries not visible with the naked eye or on x-rays. 

That first conversation happened in 1999, and after much time, energy and research The Canary System was released to the marketplace in Canada in late 2011, and then the U.S. in December 2012.

Here, Dr. Abrams shares the story behind the development process. 

Q: What was your role in The Canary System’s development? 

A: In the beginning it was providing the researchers with an understanding of the caries process and its impact upon the crystal structure of the tooth.  I also led the team in adapting the technology for application in oral health care, developing relationships with key researchers and developing the studies to validate the technology.

Q: What kind of feedback have you received from dentists using the system?

A: It’s very interesting to see how everybody uses The Canary System. We developed a tool to detect caries and defects in crystal structure of the tooth.  

We find dentists are using Canary to run their remineralization preventive programs, allowing them to monitor the effects of a variety of remineralization agents.

The Canary monitors those outcomes and motivates patients to stay engaged in those programs. The patient is examined with The Canary System, and provided with a Canary Report summarizing the findings.

The patient returns to the office on a regular basis for an examination and if necessary an office application of various agents. This way the patients are engaged in the process, and with the Canary Reports they can monitor their progress.  

Dentists also are using The Canary System to look at defects in restorations, detect caries on all tooth surfaces and beneath dental sealants. 

In my clinical practice, I am finding things I never expected. Patients come in and report pain and we can’t see anything with a standard radiograph. Canary finds the cracks. Canary finds the decay.

Q: What are you most proud of?

A: The core technology (PTR-LUM). The features around it enhance it, but the core technology is an accurate non-invasive way to detect change in crystal structure. If there’s a defect caused by tooth decay or a crack in the crystal structure,  Canary finds it. It tells you what’s wrong with the tooth structure. If you’re using  preventive therapy it tells you if you’re remineralizing that section of the tooth structure. 

Q: What’s the main benefit for the patient? 

A: The Canary System gives patients a better understanding of caries because their diagnosis is quantified by a number. If their number is 50 and goes to 55, the lesion has gotten bigger. If it drops to 40 it’s getting better.

Instead of looking at x-rays and trying to figure out the black splotch on the film the dentists is looking at, they have a number that’s linked to crystal structure. 

Q: How does it make a dentist’s job easier? 

A: It provides them with a diagnostic tool for caries. It provides them with a measure so they can see if their patients using various preventive therapies are getting better or worse, if  the lesions are getting bigger or smaller. It’s a non-invasive platform for caries detection that augments radiographs.

And it’s not only good for detection of interproximal lesions, it has the ability to detect and monitor caries on occlusal surfaces, smooth surfaces, and around intact margins of restorations and beneath sealants. Margins may look intact, but Canary will pick up decay if there is any. That includes composite fillings, amalgams and dental sealants and new studies show the same is true for all-ceramic crowns. 

It’s what I call an evidence-based system-60 peer reviewed publications and growing. There’s a lot of good basic research to validate our claims. We won’t make a claim unless we’ve done the studies and involved external evaluations to validate that claim. Dentists know the claims we make are based on sound science.

The Canary System™
is a new dental device that uses a low-powered laser to detect tooth decay earlier, on all tooth surfaces, including between teeth, around the margins of restorations and beneath dental sealants, reportedly more accurately than existing caries detection technologies. The Canary System is a highly sensitive, painless, non-invasive detection tool (hardware and software) that allows dentists to detect tooth decay early enough to treat and heal, or to place a restoration earlier than otherwise, thus preventing more serious complications.

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