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The Canary System™ is a new dental device that uses a low-powered laser to detect tooth decay and cracks before they are large enough to appear on dental X-rays. It can detect a problem on all tooth surfaces, including between teeth, around the margins of restorations and beneath dental sealants, reportedly more accurately than dental X-rays. The Canary System is a highly sensitive, painless, non-invasive detection tool that allows dentists to detect tooth decay early enough to treat and heal or to place a restoration earlier than otherwise, thus preventing more serious complications. The Canary System generates a patient report that contains an odontogram with Canary Numbers, which are color-coded for the examined teeth, along with the dentist’s treatment recommendation. This report can also be examined by the patient on The Canary Cloud (www.thecanarycloud.com).
How does The Canary System Work?
When placed on the tooth surface, a low-powered, pulsating laser light is shone on the tooth during a 3-second scan. The pulses of laser light generate photothermal (PTR) and luminescence (LUM) responses. By using a laser pulse at a frequency of 2Hz, the laser light can penetrate below the tooth surface and permit detection of a carious lesion as small as 50 microns (20 times smaller than a millimeter) and as deep as 5 mm from the tooth surface.
What are Canary Numbers?
A Canary Number is an output generated by The Canary System to inform the oral health care professional about the probable health status of a given tooth. Using a complex algorithm, The Canary System converts the unique PTR/LUM signatures into a Canary Number on a scale from 0 to 100 which appears on a monitor screen and is also audible. Lower numbers suggest healthy enamel and higher numbers suggest the presence of cracks and caries.
What’s wrong with traditional diagnostic technologies?
Traditional diagnostic technologies, visual inspection, manual probing and X-rays, are of little use if the decayed area is very small or below the tooth surface. They limit the ability of dentists to detect and monitor the early stages of tooth decay.
- The Canary System does not use ionizing radiation.
- X-rays can only find caries on proximal surfaces once the lesion has grown to involve ½ the thickness of enamel. Radiographs can’t detect lesions on smooth or occlusal surfaces until the lesions is very large
- For proximal caries detection, The Canary System is more accurate than bitewing radiography. Study 1; Study 2.
- Visual Inspection:
- Caries starts as a small lesion beneath the enamel surface. Visual inspection only examines the tooth surface and may find white or brown spots but visually one can’t determine what has caused these surface changes.
- Explorers and Manual Probing:
- Manual probing can damage tooth structure including pits and fissures and introduce bacteria deep into the pits and fissures of the teeth
What does The Canary System mean for patients?
The Canary System allows dentists to identify decay that would have otherwise gone undetected. A small restoration can avoid the costly and uncomfortable procedures associated with large caries. With early detection, decay can be treated with remineralization therapies and potentially reversed. Restorations do not last a lifetime, and there is a cycle of continued placement and replacement of fillings. Caries can also develop under sealants. The Canary System can detect decay around and beneath the margins of fillings and under sealants.
Why the name “Canary”?
The “canary in the mineshaft” was used for centuries to protect people from undetectable hazards. Today, the word is synonymous with an early warning system or alert. Patients will recognize The Canary System™ as a painless, less expensive, friendly (hand-held tool, ergonomic ease and function, yellow in color) detection system for cavities that reduces the need for painful fillings and needles.