Laser Cavity Detection (For Painless Fillings)
Having a set of healthy teeth and gums may not make it onto someone’s immediate to-do list, but what most people fail to realize is that teeth are just as important as any other part of the body. Neglecting your oral health can not only bring you pain and discomfort, but can also incur significant financial hardship the longer it has been neglected.
Visit your dentist regularly in order to maintain the best health of your pearly whites. It will also ensure that any developing cavity is detected well in advance and proper measures are taken to treat it. Luckily, our patients have the benefit of getting their cavities detected as soon as they start to develop. Not only can we detect premature tooth decay using the DIAGNOdent laser caries detection aid, but we can also treat it effectively with our new, advanced technology, that is less invasive and helps preserve the tooth. This treatment is recognized by the American Dental Association as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
As we are all aware, our drinking water contains controlled amounts of fluoride which is believed to prevent tooth decay. Although it is has helped greatly reduce the occurrence of cavities in both children and adults, it is known to do so by creating a hard enamel surface encompassing the tooth. Aside from other health concerns related to fluoride, for most people, this is great news. For dentists, however, it has created a hindrance in the detection of caries in the early stages. Prior to the introduction of fluoride in public drinking water, cavities developed from the outside of the tooth to the inside, making them easier to detect. Presently, cavities tend to develop from inside out. This means that caries start to develop in the softer layer under the enamel (called dentine) and continue to develop on the inside - while leaving the outside of the tooth looking completely healthy. It is not until later on, after the cavity has spread and destroyed the entire tooth, that the cavity is detected in the form of discoloration of tooth or through x-rays. The cavity may remain unnoticed if the explorer head used for the detection of cavities is larger than the cavity itself.
Our aim is to continually bring only the best dental procedures and equipment to our patients has yielded a solution to a problem currently faced by many dentists. We take pride in introducing to our patients, the newest state-of-the-art equipment, and this solution is the most promising breakthrough in detecting internal tooth caries since the invention of dental x-ray: the DIAGNOdent laser caries detection aid.
The DIAGNOdent laser caries detection aid is a laser scanner that detects the cavities based on the reflection of light shone onto the teeth. The scanners starts off by shining a laser beam onto the tooth. The light is then bounced off of the tooth back into the scanner. The scanner then analyzes the received light based on whether the light given off was fluorescent or not. If a fluorescent reflection is given off by the tooth, it means there is decay. Fluorescence is very specific to tooth decay because it is the only naturally occurring material in the tooth which will do that. In cases where decay has been detected, the machine will alert the dentist through visual and audible alerts.
How does DIAGNOdent work?
Not every dental procedure is meant to be painful. Our DIAGNOdent cavity detection system releases bursts of light at 655nm wavelength which passes through the whole structure of the tooth. Any emission of fluorescent light determines the presence of decay, since natural healthy teeth do not give off any fluorescence. The total fluorescence emitted is proportional to the amount of decay present in the tooth. If decay was detected, the machine alerts the dentists by playing a sound and displaying a number value on the screen corresponding to the amount of decay.
Will DIAGNOdent be used in place of conventional methods for cavity detection?
No. Although we are pleased to have this magnificent addition to our practice, and to be able to offer this service to our patients, it will not completely replace conventional methods. Considering the fact that DIAGNOdent has a greater sensitivity, it will mainly be used for the quantification of the decalcification of the tooth, and will not be used as a substitution to regular dental check-ups. Besides, it may not be suitable for every patient (especially for someone with restored teeth).
How was my cavity missed in the x-ray examination?
X-ray examinations may not be suitable for detecting minor cavities - as it is displayed in contrast between the measurement of tissue hardness vs softness inside a tooth. The harder the tissue, the lighter it is shown, while decay appears to be darker as it is softer than the rest of the tooth. The decay will also have to be at least one-third the size of the tooth for it to give out a proper contrast.
With this advancement in technology, cavities can be detected well in advance, when they are still fairly small, and can be fixed using microabrasion (no drill) with fillings to match the color of your tooth. These fillings will be a lot smaller and will cause almost no pain to the patient!
If you would like to take advantage of our early laser detection of cavities, call (619) 640-5100 for a free consultation with Dr. Paige Woods, DDS