Here are some of our insider tips!
Every one knows that dentists use xrays to detect cavities. Often a decayed tooth looks darker than a healthy tooth on xrays. Sometimes xrays, by themselves, are not enough. We use other methods to either confirm the presence of decay or to detect decay that doesn’t show up on xrays.
Dentists use a sharp dental explorer to probe the teeth and look for sticky nooks and crannies. Decay involves the decalcification of tooth structure and decayed tooth is often sticky when stuck with a dental explorer.
Decay can often can be detected with the naked eye and by illuminating the teeth with bright light. Decay is most often a different color than natural healthy tooth. Decayed tooth is porous and picks up stain easily and often takes on a brown discoloration(color varies from light to dark brown).
When we shine a bright light on the tooth (the light we use for bonding) we often can transilluminate the tooth and decayed areas look grey compared to healthy areas of tooth. Decayed tooth doesn’t transmit the light as easily as healthy tooth structure.
In recent years dentists have been making use of a digital laser tool called the Kavo Diagnodent to illuminate the pits and fissures of teeth to probe for cavities. The diagnodent provides a digital readout and if the numbers are higher than normal the patient is likely to have decay present. I personally have not found this method fool proof and have not found the method superior to regular transillumination.