Radiation-Free Dentistry: Sonograms for your teeth – an alternative to Xrays
. Here is a general description of that product;
The product is a handheld controller that is attached to a very soft mouthpiece. The device is in a dental device category known as an “intra-oral scanner”. The purpose of the device is to use very safe ultrasound signals to capture the details of a patients dental structure. Those details will be shown to the patient and the dental staff on a color monitor or computer screen.
Because we use a mouthpiece, all teeth are scanned during the procedure. This is very fast and very accurate.
There are less than 10 intra-oral scanners in the dental market. Some have been sold for over 20 years. The S-Ray is the only intra-oral scanner which uses a mouthpiece – the competition use hand held wands that must be moved from tooth to tooth.
In addition to presenting an image of the patients teeth, the scan data can be sent to devices such as 3D printers, mills (for manufacturing crowns) and dental laboratories for manufacturing of products such as orthodontic braces.
In short – S-Ray is the first and only ultrasound intra-oral scanner. It’s our intent to make it the best, as well.
Question – Can you take us through what a patient will experience when the dentist uses an S-Ray?
The first thing a patient will notice is when they are seated in the dental chair, they won’t have to rinse with the mouthwash cup. The patient can sit back and get comfortable. Then the dental assistant will unwrap the sterilized, single use S-Ray tray.
Question – so there is less chance of spreading germs because the tray is single use?
This tray is a very light and thin soft mouthpiece that is similar to a sports mouth guard except much smaller and very comfortable. This tray has a very thin coating of a mouthwash gel so it tastes good.
The patient simply puts the tray in their mouth and bites down. In less than a minute, the ultrasound scan is complete and the tray is taken out
Question – does the used mouthpiece thrown away?
No – the assistant places it and put into a sealed bag which is sent back to our factory so there is no landfill waste from our product.
Question – what does the tray do?
Because the tray is filled with tiny ultrasound scanners or transducers as they are known, we have collected millions of bits of data which we can use to create an image of all of the patients teeth – in about 1 more minute.
Question – so you can create an image or picture of the teeth?
Yes – in about 2 minutes we can scan all of a patients teeth and then show it on a video monitor next to the chair.
Question – does the patient have to wait for the images to be developed before they can see them?
No – unlike x-rays there is no film, developer chemicals or time spent waiting.
Question – are these images something a patient can see and understand.
It is important for the patient to see the images because they can finally see things that they have only been told about so we show them in a way everyone can understand.
Unlike x-rays, the S-Ray will show teeth in 3D and with color. We will show the teeth in white and gums in pink. When we show the roots of each tooth, it will be a lighter white color.
When the image is on the screen, the assistant or the dentist can start explaining things to the patient.
The first thing the patient will be shown is all their fillings (if they have any), which will be in blue. We will show each and every filling, regardless of it’s shape, size or location.
The next thing a patient may see would be a red line on a tooth. We use red to highlight an area that maybe a crack. While many patients can experience pain when they have a crack, we will show what maybe a crack even though there may not be pain.
Question – it is important to find cracks because they can be infection pathways and lead to an extraction if not caught early. What else will the image show?
If the patient has a potential cavity, they will be shown using the color yellow.
Question – what about cavities between teeth or hidden behind a metal filling? X-rays cannot penetrate metal which is why we use the heavy lead apron to protect the patients.
Good question – ultrasound goes through teeth, gums and even metal fillings. It even can even image behind metal orthodontic braces so they don’t need to be removed for a check up. So S-Ray can show those cavities if present, regardless of where they are.
Question – what about very early cavities – meaning very small and invisible to the eye?
The S-Ray can detect very early cavities which can be treated without a filling
Question – so the dentist has the option of using a fluoride treatment to reverse the cavity because it was caught early enough?
Exactly. We think that very early cavity detection will help a lot of kids avoid the traditional procedures of “drilling and filling” and provide much lower cost dental care.
Question – so we can see filling, cracks and cavities. Will the S-Ray show anything else?
Yes. The S-Ray will measure the areas between each tooth and the gums.
Question – so the dentist will not have to probe each tooth to measure.
Exactly. Every tooth is measured and if a measurement changes between check ups, we will highlight that area in pink so the dentist can look into it and make a diagnosis and recommend a treatment, it necessary.
Question – well that is a way of detecting the number one undiagnosed dental problem in the United States. That will certainly improve oral health by decreasing gum disease.
Steve – the S-Ray will how how a patients teeth are aligned and if they are crooked or crowded, right?
Exactly. The S-Ray will show each tooth like Google maps can show every building on a city block.
Question – is there a way to use S-Ray as part of an orthodontic treatment?
Yes there is. The very first steps when considering orthodontic treatment is an uncomfortable, expensive and time consuming procedure called an impression. Many of us have experienced it. A gooey putty is spread onto a hard and uncomfortable impression tray and pressed very firmly against the patients teeth. After it hardens a bit, it is pried out. Then, a plaster cast is poured into the putty and that cast or model is shipped to the supplier of the orthodontic braces or alignment trays. Often the procedure needs to be done multiple times – in order to get an accurate model of the patients mouth.
Using the S-Ray, we can completely avoid the need for the gooey putty, the tray, the plaster model and the shipping. We have collected all the data we need to have an impression – a digital impression.
Question – I can see how the patient would prefer a digital impression, but why would the orthodontic manufacturers like it?
Two main reasons – the first is that the digital impression is much more accurate. This means the braces or alignment trays fit much better and help the patient faster with less discomfort. The second reason is that we use the Internet to send the digital impression data directly to their factory and they can move that data right into their manufacturing process much, much faster.
Question – that is a good example of “digital dentistry”.
Yes. The S-Ray is a building block or foundation for digital dentistry.
Question – well the S-Ray can gather the data to help the patient and the dentist in four ways; the patient can see everything in their mouth, cracks can be seen, cavities can be seen and we can get rid of the goop by using the digital impression system. Do you have to put in the trays each time you want to look for a problem?
No. The scan that is done in that first minutes is the only scan needed during that visit. We collect everything we need during that single time our tray is in the patients mouth.
Question – Will the patient feel anything from the ultrasound?
No. Ultrasound is just sound that humans cannot hear. There is some research that indicates certain animals can hear ultrasound.
Question – Does ultrasound generate heat?
Yes – it can. In fact ultrasound is used to create heat for things like physical therapy treatments, but that type of ultrasound operates at a much higher frequency than what the S-Ray uses. Our system does not generate any heat.
Question – Why use ultrasound?
Couple of reasons why ultrasound is being used more in medical diagnostics. One reason is the very low cost. An ultrasound sensor which may cost a few hundred dollars can be used for years before needing replacement. That means thousands of patients can be treated with that single investment of a few hundred dollars.
Question – that is quite a bit less money than the thousands dollars spent buying an x-ray and the ongoing expenses of film and developer. What’s another reason?
Ultrasound is very fast – about 870 miles an hour. We don’t have to worry about a patient keeping there head still unless they are quick enough to beat 870 miles an hour.
Another reason to use ultrasound is that it has been proven to be safe. If it was not completely safe and harmless, I would not have allowed it to be used on my daughter before she was born. It is very rare that a prenatal ultrasound examination is not part of good health care for babies.
Question – Does ultrasound need FDA approval?
Yes. The S-Ray must have the approval of the Food and Drug Administration before it can be offered for sale in the United States. We have done quite a bit of work to make sure that the FDA will have all the data they need to make an informed decision about the patient and staff safety when using an S-Ray.
Question – Will insurance companies pay for S-Ray procedures?
We have met with dental insurers as well as dental associations who support the use and reimbursement to use ultrasound such as S-Ray.
Question – Will a dentist still use x-rays?
We believe the dentist will continue to use x-ray when the situation calls for it. We trust our professionals and understand that while we are going to provide an alternative to x-ray, it is just one more tool for the dentist to have as an option.
Question – When can a patient expect to see S-Ray systems in use?
We are selecting a very limited number of dentists to use the S-Ray for the 10 months starting in July 2013 – about 7 months from now.
Question – Who invented and owns this technology?
S-Ray Incorporated owns and is developing this patented and unique way of using ultrasound.
Question – Will this lower the cost of dental care?
We believe it will and have gotten support in that thinking and goal by dentists, insurance companies, dental associations as well as some state and federal government agencies since they also pay for health care through programs such as Medicare.
Question – Why is your company doing this?
Number one reason is to help dentists provide care that is better, safer and more comfortable to the patient. Second reason is to help educate patients about their teeth. A patient ho know what is happening can make better decisions – whether it is as simple as flossing or more complex such as having an implant. Third reason is to help the growth of digital dentistry so we can provide dental care to populations that don’t have a local dentist.
Question – can you go into how the S-Ray can help patients without a local dentist?
Yes. Ultrasound is so safe we don’t need things like those heavy lead aprons or lead shielding in walls. Ultrasound does not emit harmful radiation like we know that is a problem with x-ray. That means a health care provider like a school nurse can scan teeth. All they need is a control unit – battery powered and about the size is a smartphone and a scan tray. With enough trays, a school nurse can scan all the kids in a rural school in one day. Our control unit has both wifi and cellular connections so the scan data can be sent to a dentist for diagnosis- even if that dentist is 300 miles away. The dentist can then develop the treatment plans for those kids that need care and schedule either an office visit or get a mobile dental office to visit. That is an example of how S-Ray can enable teledentistry and provide care – even in foreign countries.
Dr. Steve Baird