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01 Jul 2004 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 16

New intelligent scaler provides diagnosis and therapy in one

New Products

Conventional scaling methods often deliver unsatisfactory results. This was reason enough for scientists at Greifswald University, engineers at Clausthal Technical University and product developers at Sirona to create a combined diagnosis and therapy system which is more effective and gentle to the teeth.

After two years of intensive development work, the feasibility of this new system has been demonstrated in detail. The next decisive stage will be to get the product ready for the market, as quick as possible.

The problem with conventional ultrasonic scalers is that they cannot distinguish between calculus and healthy tooth structure. Another obstacle is that the periodontal pocket conceals the treatment area. This means that the dentist has to rely entirely on their sense of touch and is not in a position to tell exactly when the calculus has been completely removed.

This prompted a group of scientists at Greifswald University, engineers at Clausthal Technical University and product developers at Sirona to join forces and come up with a new scaler which clearly outperforms its conventional counterparts. For Sirona, close cooperation with scientific organizations and with dentists is the basis for innovative and user-friendly product solutions.

The goal of the project members was to develop a scaling device which can detect and remove plaque - and at the same time verify the therapy outcome. The result is a new type of ultrasonic scaler which automatically detects the surface with which it is currently in contact. The scaler effectively removes unwanted plaque deposits without doing any damage to the tooth surface. This is possible on the basis of specially designed piezoceramic sensors and sophisticated signal processing.

The new scaling and detection system offers remarkable benefits - for patients as well as dentists. Compared with conventional scalers, it detects plaque much more effectively. It also considerably minimizes the risk of overlooking calculus deposits and ensures that the dentist does not damage healthy tooth structures. At its current stage of development, the scaler can already distinguish correctly between calculus and tooth tissue eight times out of ten.

The prototype scaler has already undergone extensive trials on patients. Sirona's technical know-how will come into play in the next phase of the project: "We will now concentrate on creating a product ready for marketing. There is still a lot to be done - work that will be well worthwhile, as the final product will offer major benefits for dentists and patients," said Ralf Sutter, Head of Product Development at the Sirona Instruments Division.

Further details regarding the scientific background of the project are available in the Journal of Dental Research, Vol. 79, No. 3, 2000.

Further information is also available on the website of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (, which has singled out and sponsored the project in 2002 within the framework of the competition "Innovations in Medical Technology".

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