Tooth decay, or cavities, can sometimes be obvious—there is a dark spot on the teeth or pain is experienced. There are other cases, however, when a problem is not uncovered until a trip is made to the dentist.
Dentists are able to find early changes in teeth before a cavity develops. They can probe teeth with a dental pick, which when sticks in a tooth, can be a signal of early damage, or use x-rays. Another option is laser dentistry. Farmington Hills residents can take advantage of laser dentistry services provided by our team at Scott J. Owens Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, We use the most advanced technologies so that our patients are provided with high-quality modern care.
One method that is used to find cavities is a procedure known as Digital Imaging Fiber-Optic Trans-Illumination. This has a sensor along with a bright light that, when placed in the mouth, creates an image of the tooth on a computer. Areas of the teeth where cavities are beginning to form will appear darker. This procedure is like using an x-ray but no radiation is used.
Digital imaging is a form of laser dentistry. A handheld probe with a laser is shined on each tooth. As each tooth absorbs the laser beam, fluorescent light is given off by each tooth. Parts of the tooth that are damaged give off very little fluorescent light. Early decay is often diagnosed using this technology, particularly in the layer just below the hard outer enamel of the tooth. Often, the outer layer is still intact and the tooth may appear normal when, in reality, this under layer may be severely decayed.
At Scott J. Owens Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, we recommend regular checkups to identify cavities and other dental conditions, whether we use traditional x-rays, digital x-rays, or some form of laser dentistry before they cause disturbing symptoms and lead to more-serious problems.
Depending on the severity of the cavities, at Scott J. Owens Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, we use several approaches. Fillings are the primary treatment once decay has progressed beyond the earliest stage of erosion of the tooth enamel. Extensive decay or weakened teeth may require a crown to replace the tooth’s natural crown. Decay that has reached the inner material of the tooth may require a root canal to be done to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth instead of removing it.