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How Does Your Dentist Diagnose Cavities?

Posted on 6/17/2016 by Giri Palani
A dentist showing a patient his dental x-ray.Like most Americans, you've probably had at least one cavity at some point in your life, but you might not know exactly how your dentist came to that conclusion. If a cavity is something that is so easy to see, why didn't you notice it in your mouth? Actually, diagnosing a cavity will take a few important steps to complete.

Identifying Signs of Decay

Your regular dental exams are an important step in determining the health of your mouth, so it is crucial that you visit the dentist every six months.

This will give your dentist the opportunity to inspect your mouth and to look for signs of a problem via the following steps:

•  Discussing your symptoms. Your dentist will talk to you about any tooth pain or sensitivity that you might be experiencing. Keep in mind that you might not always experience symptoms if you have a cavity, especially in the initial stages.
•  Performing a visual exam. Your dentist will inspect your mouth to look for discolorations or holes that may indicate the presence of decay.
•  Probing the teeth. Manual dental instruments will be used to feel the teeth to look for soft areas.
•  X-ray imaging. Looking at a dental X-ray can show the extent of decay and cavities, and it may also be helpful in identifying deep cavities that might not be visible to the naked eye.

New Technology is on the Horizon

Certain cavities can still be difficult for your dentist to diagnose, especially in the cases of subtle manifestations, including cavities hidden under existing fillings, root cavities, and demineralized areas.

For this reason, dental researchers are working on new technologies to help dentists to diagnose these problems, including fiber-optic lighting to visualize instances of deep decay found between the teeth. Laser energy or electrical currents may also be able to identify tooth density reductions in the future.

Please contact us if you have any questions about your oral health.

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