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News / February 18, 2008

Revolutionary laser for decay reversal

by Guy Hiscott

Dr John Girkin, one of the founders of the Centre for Biophotonics at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, has invented a hand-held machine that uses laser beams to capture detailed pictures of a patient’s teeth. These images can help to reverse the process of decay before permanent damage has been done.

As reported by the West of Scotland BioScience Network, Dr Girkin’s research has been focused on developing new techniques for the diagnosis of early dental disease at a stage where intervention is not required and, if the right conditions are provided, the body still has the capacity to heal itself.

Dr Girkin explained: ‘When light is shone on the tooth, different amounts are absorbed, revealing lost minerals behind the tooth façade. By using optics correctly, we are able to take a complex depth profile of the tooth. This has the potential to be much safer and more versatile than existing X-ray technology.’

This technology is also thought to have the potential for other diagnostic uses, such as in early detection and monitoring of tumours in cancer care.