For science fiction fans, the future has arrived, even to dental care as a team of researchers recently learned that it is possible to measure human tooth enamel with laser technology.
Scientists in Australia and Taiwan wanted to determine the elasticity or firmness of tooth enamel. This would tell a dentist whether a person is therefore likely to need fillings. When enamel softens, bacteria can enter and eventually form cavities and decay the teeth.
In this case, the tooth coating loses certain minerals that help it remain strong, and this can happen when someone does not take proper care of his or her teeth and visit the dentist for regular checkups, as the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends.
Because these soft areas are hard to spot with the eye, the research team developed a way for lasers to evaluate the enamel using ultrasonic waves that barely enter the tooth itself.
The full study appears in the publication, Optics Express.
To avoid tooth decay, the ADA suggests that all individuals limit their intake of sugary snacks because this can leave a sticky film on the outside of teeth and bacteria will feed on this.
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