Dental cavities are caused by the acidity created by bacteria in plaque. Areas with high acidity are more prone to cavities. A recent Medgadget article discussed a new dental instrument that predicts where cavities are likely to occur by monitoring the acidity levels in the plaque. The device, dubbed the O-pH system, was developed by a team at University of Washington. It’s a dental probe that uses fluorescence to measure local acidity levels in and around the teeth.
The dentist applies a tasteless fluorescent dye solution to the mouth before a patient has their teeth cleaned. Their teeth are then optically scanned to identify high acid production areas where the enamel is becoming demineralized. With this knowledge, dentists can advise patients on changes they can make to their oral hygiene practices, such as targeting high-risk areas with brushing. The O-pH system also provides a quantitative measurement of overall oral health, which can be used for diagnostics and tracking certain conditions.