Lifewatch: New Dentist X-rays

WILMINGTON -- Every year, millions of people go to the dentist complaining about tooth aches.  Now, there's a new device that could mean faster relief for you.

Traditional x-rays don't always help dentists find the source of your pain.  Now, a new high tech scan is giving dentists a clearer view.  Patients who have found relief might say this is the best thing since the tooth fairy.

Tony Kukowski loves to eat, but tooth pain made it difficult.

"It was a little uncomfortable eating at times. I knew something was wrong with it," Kukowski said.

Regular x-rays didn't show a problem, so his dentist decided to get a better look with a new three-dimensional CT scan.

The Iluma provides a 360 degree look at teeth and gums, creating ultra-high-resolution 3-D pictures, instead of the shadows on traditional x-rays.

The machine exposes patients to 90 percent less radiation than traditional x-rays.  As a scanner circles their head, digital plates record thousands of slices of data and put it in a 3-D skull format the dentist can manipulate any way he wants.

Dentists can zoom, spin, and even cut the images to see areas a traditional scan never captures, allowing them to see problems they never could before.

It's more expensive than traditional x-rays, but is often covered by insurance.  In Kukowski's case, it actually uncovered a hole in his skull caused by a massive infection at the roots of his teeth.

A root canal and a filling led to relief, now he can eat again without pain.

Doctor Kravitz predicts one day this machine will be the standard of care.  Right now it's being used to do facial reconstruction on Iraq Veterans.

For more medical breakthroughs, click here.

Reported by Kristy Ondo