How Does A Doctor Detect Tooth Decay?

A cavity is a very common oral health issue, one that affects both children and adults. However, without treatment the issue can potentially lead to an infection and compromise the health and stability of your smile. How does a doctor detect tooth decay? What warning signs should you be aware of?

Warning Signs and Risks of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay forms when bacteria can bypass the protective outer layer of enamel. Once bacteria reaches the dentin underneath, cavities form. The patient may notice tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures and as the decay progresses, a persistent toothache. Without treatment, the cavity will grow until bacteria reaches the inner pulp, causing a infection. The tooth will then need a root canal procedure; otherwise the tooth may eventually die and require removal to prevent infection from reaching the jawbone and surrounding teeth. If you notice discomfort in your teeth that doesn’t subside after 48 hours, please schedule a visit with our office.


Using a diode laser-based fluorescence detector, the doctor can identify tooth decay in the earliest possible stages. The cavity can then be treated before tooth sensitivity forms or toothaches occur.


This is an intraoral camera that allows the doctor to comfortably view and photograph hard to reach places in your mouth. The camera is shaped like a wand to make gathering images easier and can even be used to test the hardness of a tooth, identifying potential weak spots where decay can form.

Digital X-Rays

Digital x-rays allow a doctor to father images of your teeth below the gum line and then view the images instantly. The doctor won’t need harsh chemicals to develop the images and there is no need for lengthy time periods waiting for the images to become visible. In addition, these x-rays use 80% less radiation than other more traditional dental x-rays.