A DIAGNOdent is a tool that aids us in accurately diagnosing an area of decay in a tooth. This technology consists of a laser light pen that illuminates the tooth, measures its fluorescence, and aids in determining the underlying density of the tooth. In short, it helps us tell if there is a cavity below the surface of the tooth.
DIAGNOdent is the revolutionary new way to find even the smallest areas of tooth decay. By using this new technology, Dr. Frost is able to target and treat all of your small problem areas before they turn into larger issues that require more complicated procedures. We’ve taken our most frequently asked question about DIAGNOdent and have answered them below. If you still have any other questions about DIAGNOdent and the best ways to prevent tooth decay just contact us for more information.
Q: DOES IT HURT?
A: No! DIAGNOdent is completely painless. It’s energy level similar to that of a laser pointer, the laser beam is harmless to surrounding tissues.
Q: WHAT ARE THE SHORTCOMINGS OF THE TRADITIONAL DENTAL TECHNIQUES LIKE PROBING AND X-RAY IMAGING?
A: Believe it or not, as much as 50% of tooth decay may go undetected by traditional dental methods of probing and other diagnostic techniques.
Q: HOW LONG HAS THIS TECHNOLOGY BEEN AROUND?
A: While the device has been in use in Europe for several years, the FDA has recently approved the use of the cavity-detecting laser for use by dentists in the U.S.
Q: WHERE DOES MOST TOOTH DECAY START TODAY?
A: Today most tooth decay starts in the hard-to-see valleys and canyon-like anatomy of the tooth surface.
Q: WHY ARE THESE PIT AND VALLEY CAVITIES MORE IMPORTANT TO DETECT TODAY THAN IN THE PAST?
A: In the past tooth decay predominated in between teeth. With the widespread use of fluoride, the very nature of tooth decay has changed. The outer surfaces of teeth are strengthened and more resistant. Today the pit and valley cavities are more prevalent than cavities in between teeth.
Q: WHY CAN’T TRADITIONAL METHODS LIKE X-RAYS SEE THESE PIT AND VALLEY CAVITIES?
A: Pit and valley cavities are traditionally the most difficult to detect using x-rays due to the direction the images are taken from. Images are taken from the side of the tooth, which essentially hides the cavity from the dentists view.
Q: IF DIAGNODENT IS GOOD AT FINDING PIT AND FISSURE CAVITIES DO I STILL NEED X-RAYS?
A: Yes, x-ray imaging is an indispensable diagnostic tool for dentistry. X-rays and DIAGNOdent complement each other. X-rays are good at finding cavities in between teeth and on the roots. DIAGNOdent is good at find cavities on the tooth’s biting surface.
Q: IF YOU CAN’T SEE IT WITH YOUR NAKED EYE THEN WHY SHOULD ONE BE CONCERNED?
A: An almost undetectable area of decay can aggressively penetrate inward towards the soft surfaces of the tooth and literally destroy the tooth from the inside out. This can happen before a cavity is even visible to the naked eye.
Q: WHY CAN’T TRADITIONAL METHODS LIKE THE DENTAL PROBE (PICK) FIND THESE PIT AND VALLEY CAVITIES?
A: This type of decay can make diagnosis with traditional methods difficult because the outer tooth surface often appears to be intact and the probe may be too large to detect the cavity.
Q: HOW DOES DIAGNODENT WORK?
A: DIAGNOdent is first calibrated to your unique tooth structure by scanning a cleaned tooth surface with a harmless laser beam. After calibration a team member will gently scan your teeth. A small countertop unit emits an audio signal and registers a digital read-out, which identifies cavities developing below the surface with the higher the amount of fluorescence detected by the machine, the greater the degree of decay within the tooth.
Q: WHAT IS THE BENEFIT TO ME?
A: Because the decay is detected earlier, the number of dental procedures - and hence, the cost - can often be reduced. It’s a great way to keep little problems from becoming big problems.
Q: HOW LONG DOES THE DIAGNODENT PROCESS TAKE?
A: A few minutes are all it takes to scan your entire mouth.
Q: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
A: Dr. Frost uses the DIAGNOdent laser as a routine part of exams and there is no additional fee associated with the scan.
Q: WHAT IS THE DIAGNODENT ACTUALLY MEASURING?
A: The DIAGNOdent measures laser fluorescence within the tooth structure. As the incident laser light is propagated into the site, two-way handpiece optics allows the unit to simultaneously quantify the reflected laser light energy. At the specific wavelength that the DIAGNOdent laser operates, clean healthy tooth structure exhibits little or no fluorescence, resulting in very low scale readings on the display. However, carious tooth structure will exhibit fluorescence, proportionate to the degree of caries, resulting in elevated scale readings on the display.
Q: CAN DIAGNODENT BE USED AROUND EXISTING COMPOSITE RESIN RESTORATIONS?
A: No. Because composite resins can fluoresce, prompting elevated readings, the DIAGNOdent should not be used on these materials.
Q: CAN DIAGNODENT READ CARIES UNDER AN EXISTING AMALGAM?
A: If there is caries at the margin, it will give an accurate reading; however if the caries is under the floor of the amalgam the reading will not be accurate.
Q: CAN DIAGNODENT BE USED ON BOTH PRIMARY AND PERMANENT TEETH?
A: Studies have shown the unit is equally accurate in both primary and permanent teeth.
Q: AS THE DEVICE IS A LASER, IS PROTECTIVE EYE WEAR REQUIRED?
A: No. The device is harmless when used as directed.