The S-Ray ultrasound platform is the first radiation-free ultrasound platform for multiple dental uses.
So, what is ultrasound?
Ultrasound is defined as sound that humans cannot hear. It is a natural occurrence which can also be artificially created. Its use for diagnostic imaging was discovered in June, 1949. Ultrasound is created using a “transducer.”
Ultrasound transducers have a surface referred to as a “horn” which is used to BOTH generate and receive sound. Software determines when and how much sound is created. Software is triggered when sound is received. In simple terms, an ultrasound transducer is a physical device that needs software in order to function.
When ultrasound is used to scan soft tissue, the format is known as “pulse-echo.” This means that sound is sent (the “pulse”) and when it “hits” something, it will bounce back (“echo”) to the transducer. Multiple attempts have been made to use ultrasound for dental imaging in the same manner as medical imaging — using pulse-echo. However, teeth are hard and pulse-echo has been proven ineffective for scanning teeth.
Ultrasound — the S-Ray method
But another ultrasound method exists, one known as through transmission or “pitch-catch.” This type of scan uses two ultrasound transducers. One transducer sends or “pitches” the signal, while the other transducer waits to receive or “catch” the signal.
The pitch-catch method is used by S-Ray and key to the use for dental applications.
Unique to S-Ray, and protected by issued US Patent # 6,589,054, is placing a set of transducers on either side of the teeth and sending an ultrasound wave through the teeth. This is the “pitch-catch” format created by S-Ray.
Using ultrasound in pitch-catch is common for testing hard materials, such as airplane components. S-Ray is the first venture to apply the conventional industrial non-destructive testing technique to the healthcare industry. This manner of using ultrasound is the key to why S-Ray can produce data regarding dental structures that enables highly accurate and detailed results.
The S-Ray system design consists of an ultrasound controller in a USB cable connected to a very soft and comfortable mouthpiece with embedded ultrasound transducers. Within a minute, every tooth in a patient’s mouth will be scanned and the image shown on a chairside computer monitor.
This design is very portable and uses either Wi-Fi or network connections to send and receive data from the “cloud” – a secure data storage location using the internet.
The S-Ray ultrasound platform includes two different scanners – one to scan inside the mouth, another to scan impressions – and a stable of separate software applications.
Like downloading apps to a smartphone or tablet, a dental professional will be able to download additional software applications or apps to the S-Ray controller. These apps will provide additional features and data viewing capabilities – cavity detection, crack detection and perio pocket measurement, for example.
Because ultrasound does not emit radiation, the S-Ray platform will not cause cancer. This means that it is safe to use on pregnant women and young children. It also means that it can be used more frequently which will help a dentist find cavities and cracks sooner and provide more preventative care. Ultrasound is a safer alternative to dental x-rays.
The S-Ray ultrasound platform will enable the dental industry to replace traditional analog technology, digitize and enhance dental practices and transform patient care to make it safer, faster and more productive.