DIAGNOdent Tooth Decay Detection

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DIAGNOdent is modern dentistry’s state-of-the-art technology for early and sub-surface tooth decay detection. Using a pen-like laser probe, and in just a few minutes, Dr. Pham can safely and painlessly scan the surface of all of your teeth, allowing him to discover early-on the cavities and problem spots that traditional techniques cannot.

It is a highly accurate complement to x-ray and manual examinations. Even small cavities forming inside the tooth via microscopic defects in the tooth can be found and treated before they become problematic, more invasive, and expensive to treat.

Preventive, safe, non-invasive and rapid — for these reasons Dr. Pham provides DIAGNOdent scans routinely and free of charge.

Read on to learn more about this important technology through frequently asked questions.

How does DIAGNOdent work?

DIAGNOdent measures laser fluorescence within the tooth structure. A healthy tooth structure shows little to no fluorescence while carious tooth structure will show fluorescence when the laser scans it.

The unit measures the fluorescence and sends it to a small countertop unit that emits an audio signal, registers a digital read-out and identifies cavities developing below the surface. The more fluorescence detected, the more decay within the tooth.

Does it hurt?

Not at all. DIAGNOdent is completely painless. The energy level of the probe is similar to that of a laser pointer and is harmless to surrounding tissues.

Is it better than traditional dental techniques like probing and x-ray imaging?

The techniques are complementary. DIAGNOdent detects decay on the biting surface of the tooth, in the tooth’s pits and valleys where much of today’s tooth decay starts. This is extremely helpful in detecting cavities inside the tooth that started as microscopic defects on the outside.

It allows Dr. Pham to treat for cavities before they damage the tooth from the inside out. Traditional techniques are still needed to detect decay between teeth and at the root.

Why can’t x-rays see these pit and valley cavities?

Cavities in the pits and valleys of the teeth are difficult to detect using x-rays due to the angle the images are taken from.  Images are taken from the side of the tooth, which can block the cavity from view.

Why can’t dental probe (pick) find these pit and valley cavities?

The outer surface of the tooth can often appear to be intact when in fact it is not. Also, the the probe may be too large to detect the cavity.

Can DIAGNOdent be used around composite resin restorations or an existing amalgam?

It cannot be used with composite resins because they can fluoresce and give false readings. It can be successfully used with existing amalgams if the caries are at the edge.

However if there are caries under the floor of the amalgam the reading will not be accurate.

Does DIAGNOdent work on both primary and permanent teeth?

Yes, studies have shown the unit is equally accurate in both primary and permanent teeth.

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