Maintaining a radiant smile is a lifelong endeavor, and one of the keys to achieving this is detecting cavities in their early stages. Dentists use several different techniques to do so, with a focus on prevention and early detection.
There are six common ways that dentists detect cavities:
- Visual examination
- Tactile detection
- Laser technology
- Non-permanent dye
Of course, if you feel pain in your tooth or a new sensitivity, you may have detected a cavity all on your own. Patients pointing us in the right direction allows us to give you quick and thorough care. Visit Vibrant Dental if you are concerned about a cavity in your mouth.
The Art of Visual Examination
You may have noticed that every time you visit the dentist’s office, the dentist comes in and physically examines your teeth. Armed with a tiny mirror and a well-trained eye, your dentist meticulously inspects the surfaces of each tooth. They’re on the lookout for any visible signs of decay, such as discolorations, white spots, or dark pits.
Tactile detection uses specialized dental instruments to gently probe the tooth’s surface. This method allows the dentist to feel for soft or sticky areas that could indicate the presence of a cavity. While you are at home, you may also be doing tactile detection without even knowing. If you are noticing any rough areas on your teeth with your finger or your tongue, be sure to tell your dentist.
Shining a Light on the Subject
Have you ever held a flashlight behind your fingers to see the light shine through? Dentists use a similar technique called transillumination. By shining a bright light behind your tooth, they can detect changes in the way the light passes through the enamel. This method helps to identify cavities that might not be immediately visible to the naked eye.
X-Rays for Your Teeth
X-ray machines are one of the many modern technologies that allow us to check up on the health of your teeth without even touching them. X-rays are simple to take, it’s almost like the dentist is just taking a picture of you!
They can show the dentist areas between the teeth, below the gumline, and even inside the tooth itself. The best part? X-rays today use minimal radiation, making them safe and effective tools for your care.
Laser Technology: A Modern Marvel
Laser fluorescence is a technique where the dentist uses a specialized light to scan your teeth. Healthy enamel emits a different wavelength of light compared to enamel with cavities, allowing the dentist to pinpoint areas of concern accurately.
The Dye Discernment Method
Dentists sometimes use a dye, often in the form of a swishing solution, to help them spot cavities. This dye sticks to weakened areas of enamel, making them stand out under blue light. The dye washes off quickly, giving you a safe, yet colorful experience.
Your Role in Early Detection and Prevention
As a proactive participant in your dental health, there’s plenty you can do to aid in cavity detection. Regular dental visits, typically every six months, give your dentist the opportunity to monitor your oral health consistently. By maintaining excellent oral hygiene practices—brushing, flossing, and rinsing—you contribute significantly to preventing cavities from forming in the first place.
Treat Your Cavities Today
Hopefully now you know what to expect for your next checkup appointment! We treat your mouth with precision and care as we check for any weak spots or cavities. If you have noticed a cavity or are ready for a six-month checkup, schedule an appointment today!