Early Cavity Detection

We’re committed to using the latest technology to ensure your child gets the best care. That’s why we use an early detection tool to locate hidden decay in the cracks & crevices of your child’s teeth before it is otherwise detectable.

Mothers and Daughters Smiling OutsideMany dental problems don’t cause any pain in the earliest stages. This is especially true of cavities (called caries by dentists) & tooth decay. That’s one of the reasons it is particularly important to come to the dentist for your child’s regular checkups & cleanings. Dentists & dental hygienists are trained to spot the earliest signs of tooth decay, often in places that the patient can’t easily see.

The very earliest stages of a cavity are pretty much impossible to see, even for a dental professional with a trained eye. When a cavity starts it’s actually a microscopic hole in the very outer layers of the tooth. To make up for this, we use the latest technology to make trouble spots easier to identify. Early cavity detection uses a high-tech tool to illuminate your child’s tooth. Unlike other dental tools that scrape or drill, the cavity-detecting tool will not cause any discomfort at all. There is no heat, discomfort or pain associated with early cavity detection.

Why Is Early Cavity Detection Important?

In addition to our eyes, the other essential tool to spotting cavities is one of the oldest dental technologies: x-rays. An x-ray of your child’s tooth can help spot cavities in the tight spaces between their teeth. However, a cavity has to be pretty bad already for us to spot it with x-rays or a visual examination. And of course, the earlier a cavity is spotted, the sooner we can take care of it to prevent future decay & protect the tooth.

Treatments for removing tooth decay at the very early stages of a cavity are much less invasive (& less costly) than repairing cavities that are caught later on. Early cavity detection can mean less damage, less pain & less hassle down the road. While preventing decay is always the primary goal, we understand that not everyone has perfect oral health all the time, so early detection & treatment are essential tools for preserving your child’s beautiful smile!

How Cavities are Detected

While they may look opaque at a glance, teeth are actually made from semi-translucent materials. The hard, shiny outside layer is called enamel & the softer, yellower inside material is called dentin. Both materials allow some light to pass through them, though dentin is a bit more opaque than enamel. Cavities start on the enamel & can eventually eat through it & the dentin beneath, exposing the tooth root to decay. Early cavity detection is all about preventing this.

When we shine our early detection tool’s light at your child’s teeth, damaged parts of their enamel (i.e. cavities) will illuminate differently. Technology built into the tool measures the fluorescence of your child’s tooth—in other words, how much light it reflects or absorbs. As
the tool is moved along the grooves of your child’s teeth, a computer program creates a readout that lets the dentist know when there’s a significant change in fluorescence that may indicate the presence of decay. The dentist can then take a closer look at that area & decide on a plan for treatment.

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