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Dr. Michael W. Stuart

Dr. Craig E. Stannebein

2700 Grand Avenue, Suite D. Billings, MT 59102

Monday - Thursday 8am-5pm
Friday by Appointment Only

(406) 794-3114

Using Technology To Find Tooth Decay

  • March 1, 2016
Dentistry for Diabetics 1 | Legacy Smiles - Billings, MT

Have you used a computer today? You probably have whether you are doing some work, checking your cell phone, or entertaining yourself online.

Technology keeps moving forward, and it continues to change everything from farming to driving to dentistry.

Dentistry? Yep, even the dentist’s office is different because of technology.

One example of that is the DIAGNOdent, which we use routinely at Legacy Smiles. If you’ve been to our dentist office for a cleaning, then we have probably used the DIAGNOdent at some point or another during your treatment.

If you haven’t been to our office yet, keep reading to find out why we use the DIAGNOdent for our patients.

The Old Way Of Doing Things

Now, we are calling this the “old way” although many dental practices still use the techniques we are about to describe.

You’ve probably seen a tool with what looks like small hooks on both ends. This is a dental explorer.

When a dentist or hygienist is looking for cavities, he or she will use the explorer to probe your teeth. Using this technique, the dentist or hygienist is checking for soft spots or holes in your enamel.

In addition, X-rays have become a standard part of dental care. X-rays can reveal a lot about your teeth, and one of those things is whether you have cavities.

Even with these two practices, your dentist or hygienist won’t be able to find every cavity. We do our best, but we are human.

The New Way Of Checking For Cavities

At Legacy Smiles, we have taken our cavity detection abilities to the next level.

The DIAGNOdent is one of the most advanced tools we have at our disposal. This piece of equipment uses laser technology to help us help our patients.

In the more advanced stages, tooth decay can create large holes or discoloration of the affected tooth. In the early stages, it may be impossible to visually identify a cavity.

In fact, 80 percent of cavities start in parts of your teeth that are hard to probe with a dental explorer and hard to see with X-rays.

Unlike the explorer (which relies on feel) or X-rays (which can be hindered by the angle used to take an image), the DIAGNOdent uses fluorescence to evaluate your teeth.

Fluorescence is a measure of how reflective your teeth are. By emitting a laser, the DIAGNOdent can quantify how much is reflected back. This is a good indicator of early cavity formation that could easily be overlooked with other techniques.

This tool will emit a sound to indicate problem areas of a tooth.

But this is only one way the DIAGNOdent helps us track tooth decay. The tool also provides numerical readings which can be charted and compared between visits.

This too can help us know if you have any problem areas that may have otherwise been overlooked.

The Advantages Of Early Detection

As with most problems, dental or otherwise, the earlier we recognize that something is wrong, the earlier we can take steps to correct the problem.

By starting your treatment sooner, we are able to protect and preserve more of your healthy tooth. In some cases, a fluoride treatment can be used to repair the structure of your tooth. This treatment has the added benefit of strengthening the enamel of other teeth, which reduces the risk of additional cavities.

If a cavity has grown to the point at which restoration isn’t possible, we may be able to fix the affected tooth with a filling. This is one of the least invasive treatment options, and it restores your tooth to a healthier state.

Without DIAGNOdent, we may not be able to detect cavities until its later stages. This makes it more likely that a patient will need a filling or possibly a dental crown to fix the damage caused by tooth decay.

While dental crowns are effective, it’s always better if you don’t need one. Keeping your teeth healthy is good for you and, frankly, easier on your wallet.

Putting Technology To Work

We believe all our patients deserve the best modern dentistry has to offer. The DIAGNOdent is just one of the ways we are using technology to help you.

By detecting your cavities early, we can save you the pain, the time, and the expense of more elaborate treatments down the road.

If you would like to see the DIAGNOdent in action, just make an appointment for a cleaning and examination at our dentist office in Billings, MT. Call Legacy Smiles at (406) 794-3114 or use our online form to schedule your visit.

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