Laser Cavity Detection
For most health problems, early detection makes the difference between simple, conservative treatment and more complex (and more costly) procedures. This holds true even for a seemingly small problem like a dental cavity.
When we catch cavities early, we have several options available. Depending on the size of the cavity, we may decide to watch it for a while, or we may decide that now is a good time to quickly fill it and stop it in its tracks. The key is that we have options, and time is on our side.
If too much time passes between the start of a cavity and its detection, our options are much more limited. We may have to move quickly to stop the progression of the cavity before it reaches the nerve and causes considerable pain. In a worst-case scenario, the cavity may have progressed to the point where the tooth structure is severely compromised and a root canal or even extraction is required.
To stay on top of cavities and keep your options open, visit our office twice a year for examinations. Visual examinations and x-rays are two of the ways that we look for cavities, but our Sugar Land dental office also has another secret weapon to help us detect cavities before they are visible by eye or even by x-ray – the DIAGNOdent laser.
Using a small handheld device, Dr. Grizzle will scan your teeth easily and painlessly with the laser. The laser gives back readings that allow us to identify the beginnings of cavities – even those hidden beneath the enamel that might otherwise go undetected for a long time.
The laser system has been shown to be 90% accurate in finding cavities. In the past, a suspicious-looking mark on the tooth could have been cause for a difficult decision. Should we wait and see what happens or open up the tooth to find out what is going on? When we use the laser, we can get the answers we need without having to resort to invasive procedures and can take the time to make a decision that is right for you.
What Is a Cavity?
You’ve heard the term “cavity” over and over throughout your life. Do you know what a cavity actually is? The medical term for cavities is “dental caries,” and it means small holes in your teeth – and the beginning of decay.
Millions of bacteria live in your mouth. While most are helpful and belong there naturally, some are problematic. These types of bacteria make their home in plaque that sticks to your teeth. While plaque sits on your teeth, the bacteria produce acid that eats away at the surface of your teeth. Brushing often to remove the plaque is the most important thing you can do to prevent cavities from starting.
If a cavity is left untreated, it will continue to grow, causing the tooth to decay and eventually die. When the cavity hits the nerve, it causes pain and usually requires more advanced treatment.
To treat a cavity, we remove a very small portion of the tooth around the cavity to stop the decay process and then fill in the remaining hole with filling material. At our office, we prefer to use tooth-colored composite resin filling that doesn’t leave a gray mark on the outside of your tooth.
If it’s time for a regular checkup – or even if it’s been a while – call our office today to schedule your appointment with Dr. Reagan Grizzle.