Kari Yorkey has entrusted her beautiful smile to the same dentist for 33 years and she knows her weaknesses.
"I do like candy, I also drink coffee," she admitted.
But through all the cleanings and cavities, there's one part of coming here she doesn't look forward to: the X-rays.
Dentist Matt Hatzke says it's a common reaction. "A lot of people will ask if they can put it off, either for a financial reason or differences in understanding of radiation and the amounts that go with that."
But now instead of forcing these uncomfortable bitewings into your mouth, or exposing yourself to radiation, a Seattle biotech company has developed a dental scan called the S-RAY. It connects to a laptop or tablet and does everything X-rays do and more.
"Digital X-rays require radiation, S-RAY does not," said Scott Parker, DDS, Executive VP of S-RAY.
The S-RAY mouthpiece scans the teeth with ultrasound sensors. It's similar to technology doctors use to see an unborn baby. Within a minute, the S-RAY can give dentists a closer look at what's going on.
"The S-RAY scan can provide four things. We can image cracks and cavities in the teeth, as well as provide 3-D modeling and soft tissue data," said Dr. Parker.
Typical images from an X-ray and S-RAY also differ.
"Miniaturization allows for smaller and smaller components with faster and faster processing speed," creating the next step in digital dentistry," he said.
The Seattle company behind S-RAY is now seeking FDA clearance. Experts believe S-RAY scans will be cheaper than X-rays. As for safety, there are studies that show radiation from X-rays may cause benign tumors, which wouldn't be a concern with the S-RAY because it only uses ultrasound, no radiation.