In the past decade, technology in the dental office has grown in leaps and bounds. From the way we take impressions (using a digital wand scanner instead of the runny impression material that took what seemed like an hour to firm up!) To fast and precise digital x-rays that do not require uncomfortable film or time to process. Now, we can even detect decay without poking the teeth with a sharp explorer.
Laser Caries Detection
Using a painless laser, dentists can get feedback on the exact amount of decalcified or decayed tooth structure. A beam of light reflects into the tooth via a pen like wand. The dentist holds it over top of the chewing surfaces of molars and premolars. Then a sound and digital reading are given to provide information about the hardness of the tooth structure.
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More Conservative Treatment
If the laser gives a low number, that means there is not much tooth structure that is decalcified, and usually not decayed to the point of needing a filling. Sometimes the dentist will “wait and watch” these incipient areas of decalcification. They will recheck the readings semi annually. However, the dentist may recommend the hygienist clean the tooth and simply restore and protect the chewing surfaces with a preventative sealant.
If the laser gives a higher number, this confirms there is active decay that needs restored with a filling. The dentist will need to remove the decay with a drill and restore the lost tooth structure with a filling. Either way, when decalcification and decay are diagnosed in the early stages using a laser, less tooth structure and enamel has to be removed to fix it. This results in more conservative treatment for the patient.
Safe and Effective
Patients are happy to hear that the laser uses only fluorescent light. This means there is no radiation produced to detect decay. It is more precise in diagnosing because it can detect small changes in the enamel before it is visible to the naked eye or on the x-ray. Patients rave that they “Didn’t feel a thing!” while checking for decay.
Ask about the laser at your next visit to Dental Design. Prevention is the key to healthy teeth and beautiful smiles!