One unfortunate side effect to the proliferation of fluoride use today is that it makes tooth decay harder to detect. The fluoride is doing its job in hardening tooth enamel but this is forcing the tooth decay to seep deeper into your teeth through microscopic tears. Because the underlying portion of your tooth is softer, decay can spread quickly. The dentist may not be able to observe this decay with the naked eye, a dental explorer instrument or traditional x-rays until the decay has spread. This is when the use of laser caries (or cavity) detection systems can be very helpful
Choose a family dentist or general dentist who offers laser caries detection as part of an early warning system for decay. When caught early enough the decay is easier to treat without needing large fillings, which can weaken the structure of your tooth. Laser caries detectors have an extremely high percentage of accuracy in locating suspicious areas of your teeth or early signs of cavities.
These detectors rely on light reflecting off the surface of your teeth to look for cavities. It is difficult for light to pass through cavities, but it is easily absorbed by healthy teeth. The dentist simply uses a pen-size instrument to scan the chewing areas of your teeth. This light source is attached to a machine which checks the density of your tooth structure. Based on the amount of light that is absorbed, the machine will notify your dentist when a suspicious area is detected. The procedure is painless for the patient and only takes a few minutes.
You dentist may then perform additional tests to determine the extent of damage. The earlier the damage is caught, the better for you. In some cases your dentist may decide to closely monitor the area without taking further action. In other cases the application of fluoride may be sufficient to stop the spread of decay. If the damage is more significant a dental sealant or filling may be more appropriate. Your dentist will decide on the appropriate course of treatment based on your unique oral health situation.
ChooseYourDentist.com is your go-to source for dental information and dental education. If you are interested in laser caries detection, use our dental profiles to help find a family dentist or general dentist who can help because ChooseYourDentist.com is "where patients and dentists meet."