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Laser Cavity Detection: Shining the Light on Tooth Decay

Posted Aug 02 2010 1:42pm

Today dentists use lasers to perform several various procedures, such as in periodontal treatment and clearing bacteria in preparation for root canals. An innovative new use for lasers, which is being adapted by many dentists around the United States, comes in the form of Laser Cavity Detectors.


What is a Laser Cavity Detector?


Laser Cavity Detection can help dentists find and eliminate decay inside of teeth before the decay becomes a cavity. A dentist uses the reflection of light from the laser to tell the difference between healthy and decayed teeth. When a tooth is healthy, the reflected light easily infiltrates it, however when a tooth has decay the light has a difficult time passing through the tooth.


5.5 Reasons to Use a Laser Cavity Detector


1 Decay Process


Because the outside of teeth is mostly solid, bacteria, which cause tooth decay, get into the teeth through microscopic areas of breakdown in the enamel. The bacteria then cause tooth decay inside of teeth with no sign of damage on the outside. This makes the decay inside the teeth very hard to diagnose. Laser cavity detection uses laser reflection light to find this decay hidden inside of teeth.  


2 Accurate and Approved


        According to dentists in the United States, the Laser Cavity Detecting machine is accurate 90% of the time and it is safe for patients. Other traditional methods used by dentists such as manual probing only find cavities 57% of the time. The Food and Drug Administration approved the first laser cavity-detecting machine, which often goes by the brand name, Diagnodent, in February of 2000.


3 No Pain, Much Gain


Unlike conventional cavity filling, this procedure is not painful! During this procedure a dentist uses an instrument that looks like a pen to beam laser light onto your teeth. The dentist will shine the laser on the part of the teeth used for chewing. The Laser Cavity Detection machine then calculates the amount of wavelength given off in order to find tooth decay. Also, the procedure is quick and it usually takes less than 5 minutes to perform.


4 Healthy Tooth Structure


Without laser cavity detection, cavities can be advanced before they are ever detected. Cavities which are filled with this much decay can lead to future problems caused by the weakened tooth structure. When a dentist using laser cavity detection catches tooth decay early, treatment can be used to maintain healthy structure for teeth. It is important to note that most times decay will be present without any sensitivity to hot, cold, sweets or pressure.   You may never know about the decay until it has damaged the structure of your tooth!


5 Instant Results


            The laser cavity detection procedure provides instant results for the dentist and the patient. During the dental office procedure, as the dentist places the laser over the tooth, the machine instantly alerts the dentist of possible problem areas through an auditory signal, usually a beeping or high-pitched tone. A digital read out of the results is also provided to allow the dentist to review the findings before the patient leaves the dental office.   


#5.5 No More Fillings (possibly)


When used early enough, laser cavity detection can detect cavities early. With laser cavity detection a dentist can find areas in the teeth that are weak from tooth decay and treat the patient in order to stop the cavity before it advances. So with regular laser cavity detection, your dentist could ideally find all of your cavities before they advance, saving you time, money and painful cavity filling!


Dr. Marshall Fields is a cosmetic and family dentist located near Irmo in Columbia, SC.   He has been in practice over 20 years, and he is committed to giving his patients the most advanced care available!
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