Today’s technology now permits dentists to diagnose dental decay with increased accuracy through the use of a laser.  The Diagnodent laser cavity indicator provides a handheld wand which the dentist can use in a manner similar to the traditional explorer instrument.  Instead of “picking” into the tooth, the wand is waved over the tooth and an audible tone is emitted when decay is detected.  The tone increases in intensity in tandem with the depth of the cavity.  A digital numeric reading is also displayed, consistent with the degree of the decay.

With the increased prevalence of fluoridation of water sources has come the propensity of teeth to mask or seal over actual decay.  Therefore, the surface of the tooth being probed with an explorer may read as healthy tooth structure, while the underlying tooth is actually being consumed by soft decay. The laser allows penetration through the superficial layer of the tooth and thus captures the true health of the tooth structure below.  This invention, though unfortunate for the patient hoping to escape the appointment cavity free, has enabled the dentist to treat cavities in their early stages, before a root canal or tooth extraction becomes necessary.  The dental laser for cavity detection is just one more tool in the arsenal of the dentist looking to provide preventative dentistry.