If you understand the importance of having healthy teeth, you know that tooth decay is the number one threat. It can lead to tooth loss and even systemic infection when treatment is delayed. Practicing good oral hygiene with daily brushing, flossing and mouthwash use will fight decay, but it can occur with even the most diligent care. Finding it early is critical for treatment to avoid damage. A thorough exam from a dentist using advanced laser cavity detection is the best way to catch developing problems. Keep reading for a closer look at tooth decay and how laser detection reveals it.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
You may be wondering why have tooth decay at all, particularly if you clean your teeth regularly. The following post gives you an idea of some of the contributing factors.
An article in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) state that tooth decay occurs due to a buildup of plaque on a tooth.
Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that forms on teeth. When a person eats sugary or starchy food, the bacteria in the plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel.
Over time, these acids leach out minerals from teeth, erode the enamel, causing tooth decay, and eventually, cavities.
Tooth decay can affect people of any age. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that around 20% of children aged 5–11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth. Read more at Medical News Today
Plaque develops every time you eat starches or drink sugary drinks. It’s basically impossible to avoid plaque. However, this knowledge allows you to seek out regular, professional teeth cleaning as a precautionary measure.
Stages of Tooth Decay
As with most other health issues in the human body, there are symptoms that reveal a threat if you know what to look for. Here’s a snapshot of some common signs of decay.
Generally speaking, there are five stages of tooth decay. Let’s examine them in more detail below.
Stage 1: Initial demineralization
The outer layer of your teeth is composed of a type of tissue called enamel. Enamel is the hardest tissue in your body and is mostly made up of minerals.
However, as a tooth is exposed to acids produced by plaque bacteria, the enamel begins to lose these minerals.
When this occurs, you may see a white spot appear on one of your teeth. This area of mineral loss is an initial sign of tooth decay. Read more at Healthline
It may be difficult to detect some of these changes to your teeth, especially to the ones at the back of your mouth. Therefore, it is very important that you maintain regular dental visits — even if your teeth seem to be in perfect shape.
Laser Cavity Detection
Thanks to technology, there is a way you can find out if you have a cavity present or developing — even before it’s visible on the tooth enamel. Early detection can significantly impact your oral health both in the short and long term.
Because the laser cavity detection system can detect tooth decay before it is visible to the naked eye, we are able to treat decay before it becomes more extensive and causes more damage. In fact, the cavity-detecting laser can even identify tooth decay that still lies beneath the tooth surface and may not be detectable with digital X-rays. When the decay is treated early, we are able to provide a more conservative restoration that causes less discomfort, is less expensive and preserves more of your natural tooth structure. Tooth decay may even be reversible if it is detected and treated in the very early stages.
In many cases, the laser cavity detection system has been shown to be 90% accurate. Read more at Danbury Dental Group
Studies reveal that our smile is the first thing people notice about us when we meet. What does the quality of your smile say about you? If the answer makes you unhappy for any reason, schedule a free, no-obligation smile consultation at Adult Dentistry of Ballantyne. Dr. Robert Harrell will assess your needs and lay out the best treatment options. Call 704-541-9888 or use the contact form on our website to set your smile appointment. We look forward to speaking with you.