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A patient in the dentists office

Research recently published by Dr Alistair Bounds & Professor John Girkin (Durham University Department of Physics) could lead the way to the end of the dentists drill.

The paper published in Nature Science Reports describes a new device for looking into teeth so that early signs of damage can be found and quantified in three dimensions. If the damage is found at this early stage it can be repaired by painting the tooth with new enamel, before a cavity ever develops.

The device shines light onto the surface of teeth revealing areas of changed or lost mineral in the enamel, which to the naked eye would appear as white on white. By using different patterns of light the loss of mineral can be determined at different depths throughout the tooth to give a 3D image of the tooth.

The technology is being developed for use in dental practises by the newly formed company NirVisio founded by John Girkin alongside Professor Nigel Pitts from Kings College London. Its development and journey towards  real-world application are part of a culture of innovation amongst Durham’s Biophysical Sciences Community, who have founded an amazing 8 spin-out companies since 2011.

More about the paper “Early stage dental caries detection using near infrared spatial frequency domain imaging” Sci Rep 11, 2433 (2021) can be found at the link:

A video about the NirVisio Image System is available here: