Professor John Girkin, Durham University academic and Knowledge Transfer finalist at the 2012 Blueprint: North East Universities’ Business Planning Competition has come up with a method to diagnose early stage dental disease.
For many people, a trip to the dentist is one that can cause anxiety and often discomfort. The new dental imaging tool affirms the diagnosis of dental disease long before an X-ray and therefore significantly reducing the dreaded prospect of drilling and filling.
The idea came about after discussions with dentists, who admitted that dental disease was difficult to identify at an early stage, making it more difficult to treat. Following this discovery a team of scientists at Durham University examined in detail the physical and crucially optica, properties of the tooth and at this point started developing their dental idea.
The technology is comprised of everyday components used in compact disks and webcams to detect early lesions, which normally appear as white spots on a white background, by using an infra-red wave length. This new method is also intrinsically safe whereas traditional X-rays, use ionising radiation and thus carry a small risk. X-rays are not able to recognise dental disease at an early enough stage for it to be simply treated with a course of fluoride. Instead, it often leads to patients enduring fillings and other expensive dental treatments.The technology will be made available on three levels. The first would be a small hand held device, which would then be scaled-up to a high resolution system, costing roughly the same as an equivalent X-ray system. The final instrument would be a panoramic high-spec piece of apparatus which would provide enhanced diagnosis, similar to that of a panoramic X-ray, again costing roughly the same amount to buy, but with far superior results.
John’s background encompasses over ten years’ experience in the industrial sector and some time at Strathclyde University where he made scientific optical devices. In 2009, he embarked upon a new academic career at Durham University, residing in the Department of Physics, and is currently Director of the Durham’s Biophysical Sciences Institute.
John commented: “My ambition is to bring the plan to life, turning it into a practical reality. It would be fantastic to win the Knowledge Transfer Awards category, though my main fulfilment comes from being able to help others. To see the technology being used by dentists in clinical surgeries would be extremely gratifying, and winning the prize money would contribute towards the development of a clinically acceptable instrument for use in clinical trials”.
John will compete against academic entries from the five North East Universities in the Knowledge Transfer Awards at the 2012 Blueprint Grand Final, taking place on Thursday 25th October, Hilton Newcastle Gateshead. Tickets are on sale now for the Black-Tie, Grand Final Awards Ceremony.
For more information visit www.blueprintcompetition.co.uk or contact Jill Flowers (firstname.lastname@example.org)