Most visits to the dentist are largely preventative in nature. Your dentist is looking for the first warning signs of any oral condition which might require treatment, preventing the need for more invasive (and expensive) treatment in the future. This is the preferred course of action for any medical discipline—because the earlier a problem is identified, the easier it usually is to treat. One of the things your dentist will be looking for is the formation of any cavities, which are not always so evident in their early stages. More and more dentists are relying on technology to make this process more efficient.
The beginnings of modern dentistry can be traced back to the 1600s. Obviously, a patient's dental experience has improved considerably over the last 400 years or so, and one of the ways in which treatment has become more efficient is the advent of diagnostic testing. Without x-rays and radiographs, your dentist would be making an educated guess about your condition and its treatment. Although the early detection of cavities can be accomplished with a visual inspection, this process is far more comprehensive with some technological assistance.
Don't be surprised if one of these days, your dentist targets a small handheld device at your teeth as part of your regular checkup. Digital cavity detection tools are becoming more commonplace. From your point of view, it looks like your dentist is simply shining a blue light onto your teeth, but there's far more to it than that.
The wavelength of the light emitted by the digital cavity detection tool allows it to clearly identify areas of concern. Healthy dental enamel will look a certain colour, whereas deficient enamel or enamel being compromised by cariogenic bacteria will be a different colour. It's not as though your mouth will suddenly look like a rainbow since this colour coding is applied when the reading is sent to the dental practice's computer.
Extremely Early Detection
You and your dentist will then look at the reading, which is a digital model of your teeth. The distinctive colours show which teeth may require preventative care, and which have intact enamel. The possibility for extremely early detection of cariogenic instances ensures that preventative care can be performed immediately. This means that instead of a filling, you may only need a dental sealant or fluoride treatment—because this diagnostic testing has identified a cavity before it has technically formed.
Digital cavity detection tools may well become the norm in dentistry. Don't be surprised if instead of hunting for cavities, your dentist instead scans your teeth with something that wouldn't look out of place in Star Trek.
Contact a local dentist to learn more about cavity detecting technology.