A newly-introduced diagnostic tool, just approved by the FDA, is now at work in the office of Dr. Mark Breiner, DDS, Trumbull, to help dentists detect tooth decay before a filling is needed. The Trumbull office will be the first in New England and one of the first in the country to offer the technology, called The Canary Early Warning System. It introduces an approach to detecting tooth decay without x-rays. It is named for the idiomatic \u201ccanaries in a coal mine\u201d which were used to warn miners of the presence of dangerous methane gas. \u201cAs a patient, would you want to wait until you had a cavity that needed filling, or would you want to be warned early enough to reverse the damage,\u201d Dr. Breiner, a Fairfield resident, said. \u201cThere are a host of drawbacks to the traditional methods of diagnosis. This system, which allows us to \u201csee\u201d below the surface of a tooth, is a significant improvement for dentists. \u201cOur acquisition of The Canary System is exciting,\u201d he said. \u201cWe are among the first dozen dentists in the entire country, and the very first in New England, to offer this ground-breaking technology.\u201d The device utilizes low-power laser light technology to identify the earliest stages of tooth decay. At such early stages, there are steps patients can take to reverse the damage before a filling is needed: Changes in diet, better home care, use of homeopathic tissue salts, supplementation, and special re-mineralization pastes. \u201cApproximately 50% of a tooth\u2019s minerals are already lost by the time a traditional X-ray can detect the damage, and by then it\u2019s too late \u2013 a filling is needed,\u201d Breiner said. The Canary System also detects decay in areas not distinguishable in an X-ray, including the margins of a filling, on the chewing surface, the root surface, and the side surfaces of the teeth, he added. While the system will not replace X-rays entirely, it will help reduce the number needed \u2014 an advantage particularly beneficial to children. \u201cCanary uses a pulsating laser to scan the teeth and detect tiny lesions without exposing the patient to radiation.\u00a0 Readings on each tooth indicate whether or not demineralization, or decay, is present, along with the severity of the condition,\u201d Breiner said. According to Breiner, dental caries, or decay, is a systemic disease. When a person\u2019s system is vulnerable to decay, the bacteria in the plaque (the sticky substance often coating one\u2019s teeth) feeds on carbohydrates and creates an acid environment. The acid diffuses into the enamel, dentin, and cementum (the covering on the root surface) and starts to dissolve the minerals in the crystal structure of the tooth. If this demineralization is not halted or reversed, the tooth will ultimately end up with a cavity. Tooth decay, and the myriad relationships between the entire body and dental health, are explored in Breiner\u2019s award-winning book, Whole-Body Dentistry: A Complete Guide to Understanding the Impact of Dentistry on Total Health. The soft and hard cover books, and the e-book edition, have won awards in digital publishing, non-fiction, and health\/medicine\/nutrition. It was a finalist in the Book of the Year Award in 2011, winner of the 2012 Global E-Book Awards, and a finalist in the 2012 E-Book Book of the Year Awards. Breiner\u2019s practice, located in Trumbull, emphasizes the relationship between oral health and general wellness. Dr. Breiner can be reached at 203-371-0300.