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Make like a dentist with this in-home tooth scanner

Soon, a scanner using light spectroscopy might be able to tell if you have cavities or if you're giving all your teeth equal attention when you brush.

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Brush? Check. Floss? Check. Scanner? Maybe soon. Screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

I, like most people, do not like going to the dentist. I do, however, have a certain grudging admiration for the shiny arsenal of tools they use -- especially that UV light thing they radiate your teeth with when you're getting a filling.

So when I got an email about the Toothscan device that promised to let you play dentist on your own teeth, my interest was piqued.

Toothscan looks like a long, sleek toothbrush. Instead of bristles at the head, however, it sends out a pulse of light that bounces off the enamel in your teeth, relaying information back to the scanner. That data is then relayed to an app on your phone that evaluates the health of your teeth.


It does this through spectroscopy, the process of evaluating the different colors in a beam of light to determine certain information. "When a light beam reflects from a healthy tooth," says the video about the Toothscan, "it has a distinct spectrum. When the beam reflects from a problematic area, there will be a spectrum deviation."

By monitoring your teeth in this way, the logic goes, you can track how well you're brushing and give neglected teeth more attention -- or, get yourself to the dentist before a small problem becomes a larger one.

The device is charged through a micro-USB cable and holds its charge for five days, the company promises.

The Toothscan is now in the early days of an Indiegogo campaign. You can get an early-bird Toothscan for $149 plus a whopping $25 in shipping, which is available worldwide (which converts to a total of roughly £110 or AU$210). Devices aren't expected to begin shipping until November 2015, so until then, just remember to floss.