Laser Decay Detector Overview
Make way for "Minimally Invasive Dentistry." The Laser Decay Detector, or DIAGNOdent Cavity and Decay Finder, is the revolutionary new way to find even the smallest areas of tooth decay. The mouthful of words means simply that dentists no longer allow dots of decay to advance into large craters. Armed with the ultimate in high-tech sleuthing, they now set out to find decay at the earliest possible moment. By using this new technology, the highly skilled dentists at Washington Center for Dentistry are able to target and treat all of a patient's small problem areas before they turn into larger issues that require more complicated and more expensive procedures.
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Remember the Olden Days?
We all remember going to the dentist, opening wide, and listening with held breath while he or she examined our teeth for decay. “Please, no cavities,” we prayed. No longer. Today, the prickly instrument takes a back seat to a high-tech laser decay finder that lands a preemptive strike in the battle against decay.
With that prickly instrument in hand, our dentist used to probe every tooth, looking for “soft” spots where decay had invaded our once hard, pristine dental enamel. And when the point found its quarry, a tiny spot of decay, he or she would nod and say, “We’ve got a small one here. We’ll watch to see if it grows into something.”
“Now, we can absolutely eliminate many large fillings that lead to cracked teeth, crowns and other more invasive treatment,” says Dr. Daniel J. Deutsch, of the Washington Center for Dentistry in Washington, DC.
As much as 50% of tooth decay may go undetected by traditional dental methods of probing and other diagnostic techniques. In the past, tooth decay was predominant in between teeth. With the widespread use of fluoride, the very nature of tooth decay has changed. The outer surfaces of teeth are strengthened and more resistant.
Today, the pit and valley cavities are more prevalent than cavities that are in between teeth. Pit and valley cavities are traditionally the most difficult to detect using x-rays due to the direction the images are taken from. Images are taken from the side of the tooth, which essentially hides the cavity from the dentist's view. An almost undetectable area of decay can aggressively penetrate inward towards the soft surfaces of the tooth and literally destroy the tooth from the inside out. This can happen before a cavity is even visible to the naked eye.
How it Works
DIAGNOdent Cavity and Decay Finder is first calibrated to your unique tooth structure by scanning a cleaned tooth surface with a harmless laser beam. After calibration, a team member will gently scan your teeth. A small countertop unit emits an audio signal and registers a digital read-out, which identifies cavities developing below the surface. The higher the amount of fluorescence detected by the machine, the greater the degree of decay within the tooth.
The DIAGNOdent Cavity and Decay Finder measures laser fluorescence within the tooth structure. As the incident laser light is propagated into the site, two-way handpiece optics allow the unit to simultaneously quantify the reflected laser light energy. At the specific wavelength that the DIAGNOdent laser operates, a clean, healthy tooth structure exhibits little or no fluorescence, resulting in very low scale readings on the display. However, carious tooth structure will exhibit fluorescence, proportionate to the degree of caries, resulting in elevated scale readings on the display.
Because the decay is detected earlier, the number of dental procedures – and hence, the cost – can often be reduced. It's a great way to keep little problems from becoming big problems.
Stop Decay in its Tracks
Why wait for decay and cavities to get worse and worse to the point where your tooth is failing or at the risk of being lost? Now, you don't have to with the laser decay detector. This one-of-a-kind tool can find even the smallest areas of decay that were once impossible to pinpoint until they had gotten larger and larger and created a nuisance. The dentists at Washington Center for Dentistry are proud to offer this detection to protect their patients' teeth and provide better outcomes. If you think this is something you would be interested in learning more about, contact our office for a consultation.