Device Non-Invasively Detects Caries Before Radiographs Can

Richard Gawel


Caries diagnosis is perhaps the most important task of the dental practitioner. The management of a healthy mouth requires the identification and treatment of caries as early as possible. 

It is relatively easy to visually identify larger areas of decay, tactilely differentiate soft portions of tooth structure, and radiographically interpret the carious penetrations of enamel and dentin. The difficult assessments occur in situations where the caries is very small or appears very small, as in the case of hidden decay.

All too often, the dentist will opt to watch and wait, allowing the damage to worsen with time. Also, traditional aggressive evaluation with the explorer can damage intact enamel pits and fissures and has been shown to carry caries-causing microbes from diseased teeth to healthy ones.

Ortek Therapeutics has developed the Electronic Caries Detector (ECD), a noninvasive device that measures the electrical conductance of the tooth surface. In a study comparing the ECD and tooth biopsy, the ECD showed 100% sensitivity and 93% specificity. This provides a positive predictive value of 96% for dental decay well before radiographs and the human eye can detect the condition.

The ECD disposable probe is placed in the suspected carious region with little or no pressure. Intact enamel prevents the flow of the electrical current (0 reading). A lesion allows the miniscule electrical current to flow (readings up to 100). The magnitude of the reading generally reflects the extend of the decay. 

With the ECD, clinicians can detect carious lesions with a high degree of certainty at a very early stage, enabling timely and minimally invasive treatment.

For more information, call Ortek Therapeutics at (888) 323-0023 or visit

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