If your dentist in Chicago can’t detect a cavity, how can she treat it?
Is it a cavity or just stain on a healthy tooth? Dentists are often confused when attempting to diagnose the newer phenomenon known as “hidden caries” (tooth decay). A suspicious-looking tooth presents a dental treatment dilemma for dentists. Should the tooth be treated or just “watched”? If we just “watch” the tooth, doesn’t that give decay more time to destroy the tooth’s structure?
Using the more conservative treatment methods available today, our dentist in Chicago is able to diagnose and treat cavities when they are still quite small, thereby saving more of your tooth.
Incipient (tiny, starter) cavities can be treated without the drill, using Ozone and remineralization liquids and pastes that will help the teeth actually heal themselves! That can mean no shot, no drill, and no filling replacement throughout your lifetime.
If the cavity is a bit larger and unable to be treated with ozone, Dr. Alfe can place a small, bonded, tooth-colored filling, which requires less time in the dental chair, costs you less money, lasts longer, and is more predictable to treat!
In the case of hidden caries, traditional diagnostic methods all too frequently yield uncertain results. If your dentist is only using the dental “pick” (explorer) and X-rays to check for cavities, he or she may be missing something.
Due to fluoridation, dental caries has gone “underground.” Fluoridation has certainly helped improve the oral health of many Americans, by helping create harder tooth enamel. Unfortunately, there is a down side to this. Tiny, starter cavities that begin in the grooves of the back teeth’s biting surfaces have now migrated deep into the groove, far beyond the reach of the dental “pick”.
By the time the “pick” gets stuck in a cavity, it is usually quite large and may require more extensive treatment than just a bonded filling.
Like almost every other profession, dentistry is changing constantly. Newer technology makes it more predictable to check for and treat cavities, gum disease, TMJ problems, and a host of other dental conditions. The DIAGNOdent cavity detection laser removes the doubt from treatment decisions regarding hidden caries or questionably stained grooves. The device’s ability to see into occlusal pits and fissures enables Dr. Alfe to treat sub-surface cavities with confidence. The occlusal pits and fissures are those groovy areas on the biting surfaces of your back teeth. The DIAGNOdent is an extremely accurate and reliable adjunct for the detection of subsurface decay. It removes the guesswork that accompanies many treatment decisions regarding questionable areas, such as stained or discolored grooves.
Using only an explorer and bitewing X-rays, your dentist is poorly equipped to detect incipient carious lesions. With an explorer, it is virtually impossible to feel to the bottom of the grooves on the biting surfaces of the back teeth, checking for a “stick”. Bitewing X-rays also have limitations as a diagnostic tool when used to diagnose biting surface cavities. While bitewing X-rays can identify larger areas of decay, as well as cavities between the teeth (“flossing cavities”), small sub-surface cavities on the biting surfaces are rarely detected. By the time cavities show up on a bitewing X-ray, they are usually fairly large, requiring more aggressive dental treatment.
Dr. Alfe is always looking for the most conservative, predictable, and cost-effective treatment for her patients. Using the DIAGNOdent to help her examine and diagnose decay when it is still in its earliest stages has allowed her to help her patients avoid pain, emergencies, and unexpected costs associated with them. Also, for patients who are fearful of dental treatment, being able to treat cavities when they are still tiny makes the dental visit much more pleasant and comfortable.
To learn more about DIAGNOdent cavity detection or to schedule a dental check-up with Dr. Gerilyn Alfe and her team, please contact Chicago Smile Spa or call (773) 348-2704 today. Dr. Alfe is proud to serve patients throughout the greater Chicagoland area including Lakeview, Lincoln Park, and surrounding Chicago communities.