Detecting demineralisation in the digital age – Bruce Vernon

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  Posted by: Dental Design      6th February 2018

One in ten adults are guilty of forgetting to brush their teeth, exacerbating the demineralisation process that could damage them irrevocably. With the highest prevalence of primary dental caries observed in those between the ages of 16 to 34, [i] it is evident a lack of care for oral health is having a substantial effect on the young population in Britain.

It is interesting to note that with all the ground-breaking technology of our digitally dominated age, the young adults of Britain still struggle to care about and maintain the health of their teeth. Research has suggested that video gaming could be responsible for poor oral health among adolescents – with the study indicating a correlation between prolonged exposure to computer screens, and the consumption of highly sugary snacks and drinks, which, as we know, damages the tooth through demineralisation. Hence, gamers are more than twice as likely to suffer the effects of dental caries than those with more active lifestyles.[ii]

Additionally, it has been reported that a staggering 97% of the population under the age of 25 currently uses a smartphone device in their daily lives.[iii] The dental profession should acknowledge that the exaggerated use of technology may fuel a poor diet of extremely sugary, acidic food and drinks, which if left to demineralise the teeth, can eventually lead to dental caries. This is important to consider, particularly as young people seek an intense sugar fix to boost their energy in front of the TV, while on their smartphone, or playing on the games console.

Until they start to experience toothache, patients often fail to appreciate the consequence of demineralisation, or are simply unaware of the causes and what methods can be employed to prevent it. It is no easy task for dental professionals to engage with their patients about the importance of brushing twice a day and attending regular dental check-ups – especially as the youth of Britain are notoriously absorbed by digital technology to pay much heed to lectures in dental hygiene. It is, therefore, crucial that the profession finds original and creative ways to communicate information with patients in order to take effective preventive measures against the possible effects of demineralisation.  

Some of the latest innovations in dental health technology mean that most modern radiographic systems and sophisticated intraoral scanners are being utilised in practice as a way of giving patients a visual representation of the condition of their teeth – dental scans are digitised in real-time so that they are available to review immediately. This can be incredibly useful to indicate to patients what exactly is wrong with their teeth, so that practitioners can have a more informed discussion about appropriate treatments.

Advanced visual technologies are emerging on the dental market that will improve the precision and efficacy of diagnostics, and encourage enhanced preventive care. The state-of-the-art CALCIVIS® imaging system uses bioluminescence (light-emission) to detect demineralisation on the surface of the tooth, indicative of the early signs of caries. This system allows dentists to undertake and communicate simple preventive treatments to patients, including remineralisation therapy.

Visual and interactive elements of digital technology can be used effectively to engage with patients about the importance of good dental health. Both Britain’s young adults, and the practitioners that care for them, can see more clearly the effects of excessive sugar consumption so that they may take greater, more responsible steps to prevent active demineralisation.


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[i] National Health Service. (2011) 2: Disease and related disorders – a report from the Adult Dental Health Survey 2009. Link: [Last accessed: 17th November 2017].

[ii] Poss, J, Marshall T, and Qian F, Weber-Gasparoni K, Skotowski, C. (2010) Video Gaming Teenagers: An Examination of Diet and Caries. Conference Paper AADR Annual Meeting. Link: [Last accessed: 17th November 2017].

[iii] Google. (2017) Consumer Barometer: The Connected Consumer Survey – Percentage of people who use a smartphone. Link: [Last accessed: 17th November 2017].

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