On your next visit to the dentist's chair, look over at the tray of tools and you might see something new next to the drill and mirror. Abiodent Inc. in Danvers, Mass., has come up with a computerized probe that helps dentists detect gum disease. Called PerioTemp, the device measures gum temperature--a measure of inflammation associated with gum disease. Abiodent developed the system after clinical trials in Boston and Kansas City, Mo., found that temperature was a better indicator of potential trouble spots than bleeding or receding gum lines.
The PerioTemp probe relays the gum temperature around each tooth to a computer monitor, which displays the data with color-coded lights. Red means inflammation, yellow is for borderline spots, and a green light means the gum is healthy. The system, which costs $1,990, also comes with a printer, so information can be permanently stored in a patient's chart.