Catching cavities early allows them to be treated before they begin to expand and spread into the sensitive root of the tooth. Patients whose cavities are treated early can receive much smaller fillings and avoid the risk of serious decay. A new technology known as DIAGNOdent is helping dentists to identify cavities when they are too small to show up on X-rays.
Why is DIAGNOdent needed?
Dentists use a variety of techniques to identify cavities. As well as visual inspection, dentists can also probe teeth with a dental pick and take X-rays, but all of these techniques are limited in that they can only accurately identify cavities once they get above a certain size.
Leaving cavities undiagnosed can result in them growing significantly during the time that passes until the patient’s next dental appointment. Larger cavities are more expensive to treat and pose a greater risk to dental health.
Better dental health has led to stronger dental enamel in recent decades. While this improvement is to be welcomed, dentists now face the problem of hidden cavities, which attack the softer parts of the tooth beneath the enamel and are difficult to detect.
How does DIAGNOdent work?
DIAGNOdent is a device that shines a laser into suspected cavities in the tooth. Decayed parts of the tooth appear fluorescent at the very specific wavelength of the laser light, whereas healthy tooth structure does not fluoresce. The DIAGNOdent device measures the amount of fluorescence to indicate the extent of decay within the tooth.
Is DIAGNOdent successful at detecting cavities?
The DIAGNOdent system has been shown to be over 90% accurate in the detection of cavities. In comparison, X-rays only identify 67% of cavities correctly. Meanwhile, visual inspection and probing have a success rate of less than 60%. DIAGNOdent offers a significant step forward in cavity detection, particularly for small or internal cavities.
Another advantage of DIAGNOdent is that it is an entirely painless examination procedure. Cavities can be quickly identified without causing any discomfort to the patient.