Early Stage Diagnosis of Tooth Decay / Dental Caries

Identifying and preventing problems or treating them in their earliest stages is one of the most important things we can do for our patients. Our continuing education and integration of new technologies allows us to do this and to provide minimally invasive and tooth preserving treatment. See video here

We have significantly improved our ability to diagnose cavities in their early stages by incorporation of the DIAGNOdent laser caries detection aid into our practice. DIAGNOdent has been approved for the detection of dental caries by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Dental Association.

The widespread use of fluoride has created harder enamel surfaces more resistant to decay. While this has reduced the overall incidence of dental decay it has made detection of cavities in their early stages more difficult. Dental caries that once commonly began on the smooth outer enamel surfaces are now increasingly found to begin in the softer dentin layer beneath the enamel, inside the small pits and narrow fissures on the chewing surfaces of teeth. These “drop surface” cavities destroy tooth structure from the inside out, leaving the external surface of the tooth appearing healthy until the decay is so large that it can be detected on x-rays or until its discoloration becomes visible through the intact enamel surrounding it. If the enamel defect leading to the decayed area is smaller than the head of the explorer used to detect cavities the decayed area may not be detected and the lesion will continue to grow.

The DIAGNOdent is a Class 1 laser that emits safe, painless pulses of light through the tooth structure at 655nm wavelength. It uncovers hidden decay by comparing the reflected florescence of tooth structure against your established baseline reading to uncover decay. Healthy tooth structure exhibits little to no fluorescence. Decayed tooth structure exhibits fluorescence that increases proportionate to the degree of decay. Whenever the DIAGNOdent encounters tooth structure that registers fluorescence outside your healthy baseline range it produces an audible signal and displays a value on its LED screen. The higher the value displayed, the greater the amount of decay.

diagnodent compareLaser fluorescence by DIAGNOdent is an outstanding adjunct to oral examination. It is more sensitive than traditional diagnostic methods and provides an objective means of qualifying decalcification of tooth structure, however it is not a complete substitute for the clinical judgement and evaluation of other clinical parameters by your dentist. In addition, not everyone is a candidate for DIAGNOdent examination, for example the DIAGNOdent is not effective for the examination of previously restored teeth.

How much does a DIAGNOdent examination cost?

Dr. Holcomb includes this valuable service at no additional fee with your regular checkup after your cleaning appointment.

Make an appointment for your checkup today.