Doppler Radar now being used in dentist offices

Warsaw, Ind. Let's face it dentists often get a bad wrap. After all, they are simply trying to keep our pearly whites and gums as healthy as can be.

Thursday night in a special Medical Moment Just Before Six we will show you how Doppler technology is giving them another tool to find decay even earlier.

Seven year old twins Katherine and Caroline Alderfer are alike in many ways, but Katherine has had some health issues that this year put her on the cover of Riley Children's Hospital's magazine.

And while she is making progress with her health problems at Riley, today she and her twin are taking care of their dental health in Warsaw.

While their annual checkups with Dr. Bill Stofer still include a visual check and x-rays, Dr. Stofer now has another tool at his disposal that can mean fewer xrays in the future.

Much like the Doppler Radar meteorologists use to predict the weather, Spectra is changing the way dentists find cavities.

That's right. Dr. Stofer says Spectra is the next generation of tools a dentist can use. And much like you see when watching Mike Hoffman's weather forecast, Dr. Stofer and dental hygienist Jenny Tyler use the Spectra wand to watch for subtle changes that are often invisible to the naked eye.

“It's a fluorescent light that comes in, I just grab a simple picture, you know it's non-invasive, there's no x-ray, and it is only light,” says Dr. Stofer. “Then the computer converts it into an image that we can show to the patient very easily.”

Color and numerical indicators reveal the seriousness of the decay on the surface of the teeth. Green is good, blue is a warning sign and red and yellow mean trouble.

Dr. Stofer says having this extra tool can mean less pain in the future for his little and big patients.

“Like a mammogram, like prostate screening or a heart test or something like that, it's all about the prevention and that's what we're trying to do,” says Dr. Stofer. “We're trying to do as little dentistry as we need to.”

For Katherine and Caroline, who have had Spectra used for the last three years, it's made trips to the dentist much more pleasant.

Katherine is up first and Spectra shows no problems.

Christine's turn and even after admitting eating some candy corn before her appointment she gets a clean bill of health.

And for mom, Kristine, Spectra leads to a little more peace of mind.

“There is no radiation involved and our kids are exposed to so many things every day that the less that we can expose them to the better it is for them,” says Kristine Alderfer.

And Spectra is stored on the computer as part of their digital records so over the years Dr. Stofer will be able to watch for changes in Katherine and Caroline's teeth.

And he says, when you can show adults or kids the actual decay in bright colors, it's a wakeup call.

“It picks up their game, they really do a lot better,” says Dr. Stofer. “Any little encouragement you can give them.”

Encouragement that can take the fear out of a trip to the dentist and helps set our kids up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Dental Doppler was FDA approved nearly four years ago and is slowly gaining in popularity in dentist offices across the country.

Dr. Stofer is the only dentist in the Michiana area currently offering this technology. He does not charge any extra to use Spectra, it is part of his regular exam and I was told it is covered by most insurance companies.

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