Tooth decay creeps up on people when they least expect it, sometimes feeling as if it just happened overnight. Although cavities can form quickly given the circumstances, early diagnosis can catch them when they are very small. The earlier the decay is diagnosed, the more affordable and less invasive it is to treat it and prevent it, saving the affected tooth as well as adjacent teeth in the mouth. Traditionally, decay has been diagnosed through two different methods: x-rays and clinical examinations.
Now patients can have cavities found before they’re even visible to their dentist. Thanks to cutting edge technology such as the DIAGNOdent laser cavity detection system, dental patients can actually have the health and density of their tooth enamel checked by equipment that picks up on weak areas or small cavities before they’ve ever been able to be diagnosed using traditional methods.
To determine the actual density, the pen-shaped detector is calibrated along obviously healthy areas of tooth enamel. Then it is used to check the pits and fissures of the chewing surfaces – an area of the teeth that is often one of the first ones to develop cavities. A visible number can be seen to show what the density is, along with an audible alarm for unhealthy areas.
Why is this so important? Because it allows the preservation of as much healthy tooth enamel as possible. After all, nothing is better than healthy tooth enamel, even the very best restorations available. Teeth that are treated when these areas are very small mean that only slight alteration and restoration is needed, preventing the cavity from invading healthier structures around it or becoming a bigger problem later on.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Omar Damji, Executive Park Dentistry
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