Early Detection of Dental Decay using the DIAGNOdent


Early Detection of Dental Decay Using the DIAGNOdent

Continuing with our discussion of technology in dentistry, I would like to discuss a diagnostic tool called the DIAGNOdent. In the past, the only ways to detect cavities on the chewing ...surfaces of teeth were to use a sharp dental instrument called an explorer to feel for cavities and to use a visual examination of the surface of the tooth. X-rays, which are good to detect cavities between the teeth, are unreliable to detect cavities on the biting surface of the tooth. The DIAGNOdent was developed to help dentists in the early detection of cavities on the chewing surface of the teeth.

The DIAGNOdent is a laser cavity detection aid. Very simply, the unit shines a certain wavelength of light down into the crevices of the chewing surface of a tooth, and based on the light that is reflected back, it determines if a cavity is present and to what degree. This works because the bacteria that cause a cavity will fluoresce when illuminated by this wavelength of light whereas healthy tooth structure fluoresces minimally or not at all. Based on how much fluoresced light shines back into the sensor of the DIAGNOdent will determine the presence and severity of the cavity. Carious tooth structure fluoresces proportionate to the extent of the cavity, and the DIAGNOdent display shows a number between 1 and 99 which corresponds to this severity.

By using the DIAGNOdent, we can determine if a cavity is present and how it should be treated. Some minimal cavities may respond to fluoride treatment, improved homecare and a better diet and may not need to be filled. If we try to remineralize a tooth, sequential DIAGNOdent readings at each cleaning appointment can be compared to determine if lesion is worsening or improving. If the tooth is worsening, then a restoration can be placed in the tooth. If the readings are not worsening or improving, then continued monitoring is all that is needed.

Benefits of Using the DIAGNOdent:
• Very accurate in determining tooth decay on the biting surface of teeth
• Allows measurable monitoring over time of very small cavities or demineralization of the teeth
• Painless
• Non-invasive
• No radiation exposure – uses light instead of x-rays
• Catches tooth decay earlier than could previously be detected and this results in less invasive treatment

• Unable to detect decay between teeth (x-rays are needed for this)
• Does not work well in areas where previous fillings, crowns, or other dental work have been completed

The DIAGNOdent has proven to be a very useful tool, when indicated, to help in the early detection of cavities. When we have used the DIANGOdent on our patients, we have been able to detect tooth decay much earlier and have been able to either stop the progression of the decay with remineralization therapy or place much more conservative restorations. This allows our patients to avoid more invasive treatment later. If you have any questions about the DIAGNOdent or any other topics please call our office at (937) 434-8870 or email me at [email protected]

Dr. Jerry Brown