Description of the Current Method to Detect Periodontal Disease
The current primitive methodology used by dentists and dental hygienists to detect and measure periodontal disease consists of a sharp metal probe that is repeatedly inserted between the tooth and gum and which is pressed down until it encounters the ligament. The depth of the ligament is thereby measured and indicates the amount of periodontal disease that may be present. This method can be painful, and is invasive, bloody, extremely inaccurate, subjective, analog and labor and time intensive (most measurements are written down by hand and usually require two people to perform the test). It is also severely limited in its effectiveness at diagnosing periodontal disease in its earliest stages as it is a retrospective analysis and can only measure significant amounts of tissue already lost (i.e., after serious damage has occurred). In undergoing this test, patients are at risk that the infection will be pushed below their gums into their bloodstreams (i.e., septicemia).
Description of the Perio-Imager
The Perio-Imager is a unique ultrasonographic digital imaging and diagnostic tool for effectively detecting, mapping, characterizing and evaluating the presence, and monitoring the treatment of periodontal disease. It also provides qualitative information regarding the presence and location of calculus (i.e, hardened plaque) present on the tooth surface below the gum line.
The Perio-Imager is a precision, state-of-the-art instrument that integrates proven diagnostic medical imaging ultrasound technology used extensively and safely by the medical profession in fields like cardiology and obstetrics as well as in aerospace and nuclear submarine structural flaw detection for many years and modified and enhanced so dentists can safely and effectively use it.
The complete Perio-Imager consists of a unique and proprietary hand piece (See Figures 3 and 4) and a compact, chair-side, large touch-screen, computer console unit and proprietary, advanced artificial intelligence software for data acquisition, conversion and display. The hardware includes an ultrasonographic transmitter and receiver (i.e., the transducer), water flow control devices, electrical connectors and circuit boards to control, acquire, process and convert the signals into a series of user-friendly images.
The Perio-Imager's unique and proprietary hand piece directs a gentle drip of water (or other liquid such as an anti-bacterial agent) between the gum and the tooth. The transducer in the tip of the hand piece rapidly produces and transmits several ultrasonographic signals (i.e., sonar waves) that use the liquid as the signal coupler and travel down the drip of water along each tooth's surface and below the gum line until they reach the ligament attachment to the tooth (i.e., into the periodontal pockets).
These signals then bounce back to the transducer from the ligament attachment point by traveling back up the liquid. The transducer then captures the corresponding echoes resulting from their collision with anatomical features below the gum line and they are thereby analyzed, timed and measured. The periodontal condition is then automatically mapped (i.e., the depth of each tooth's pockets is thereby measured) by analyzing these received sonar echoes.
Embedded software within the computer converts the incoming signals from an analog to a digital format and uses proprietary algorithms to interpret and convert the echoes corresponding to the depth of the outer boundary of the periodontal ligament into a dimension (e.g., pocket depth in millimeters) and to detect the presence of and locate calculus on the tooth's surface so it can be more easily and effectively removed.