Bacteria that cause decay (S. Mutans) are extremely clever. Enamel, which is the outer covering of teeth, is the hardest structure we have in our body. In order to break through this layer the bacteria gain access in the form of a small pin hole. This pinhole continues down until they reach the inner layer of the tooth called dentin. Dentin is not as strong as enamel and this is when the bacteria have a field day and they spread at a much higher rate. It is usually at the dentin level where we can see the decay on X-rays from the chewing surfaces of teeth. Decay in between the teeth is easier to see at earlier stages on dental X-rays. That is why this technology helps us diagnose earlier lesions.
In the last decade or so, we have noticed a change in the way we have to diagnose decay. It used to be that the top grooves would all be soft and your dentist’s explorer would stick into the groove implying that it is demineralized and needs attention. However, with the advent of fluoride and more people using fluoride, the very top layer of the decay can actually get re-mineralized tricking us into thinking that that dark stain may just be a stain.
Here at our dental office in Escondido, our dentists use the state of the art technology called Diagnodent Laser Cavity Detection system to outsmart those tricky bacteria. Diagnodent uses Flourecense technology to detect the early cavities. It is painless and accurate and allows us to do conservative dentistry. It is an innovative way of detecting cavities.
The light on the Diagnodent shines through the tooth and if there is decay present, the demineralized tooth reflects back differently from healthy tooth. This reflection transmits to the machine into an audible sound and a number. The higher the number and the louder the sound, the bigger the cavity. This technology allows us to prioritize which teeth we address first. I have been using this technology for ten years (upgrading our machine on a regular basis) and I am always impressed that it is NEVER wrong. Without this technology I cringe to think of how many cavities I would have missed. I trust this machine with my own children’s teeth. Unfortunately, even my kids got some cavities.
Diagnodent cannot detect decay in teeth that already have restorations, and it cannot reach in between the teeth. It is mainly used on virgin teeth and only on the chewing surface where the anatomy of these teeth with the deep grooves allow the bacteria to embed themselves. For further information on this technology call us at 760-747-1811. Also be sure to check out our new patient promotions!
I am so proud of my profession for making great leaps and bounds towards conservative dentistry. Check out this short video to further appreciate the value of this technology.
Dr. Rabee McDonald