These days, treating cavities is fairly simple. Thanks to modern dental materials and techniques, most of them can be effectively treated with discreet, tooth-colored fillings. However, the damage that cavities cause to your teeth is permanent; therefore, preventing them is the best way to protect your smile. If a cavity does form, then detecting and treating it early is the next best thing, and the best way to catch a cavity is to let your dentist check for one on a regular basis.
Regular Checkups and Cleanings
During a routine dental checkup and cleaning, your dentist or hygienist carefully cleans your teeth of the plaque and tartar that lead to cavities. In case tooth decay (or another dental issue) has formed since your last visit, your dentist will also perform a comprehensive inspection of your teeth and oral tissues. Small signs that you might not notice, such as changes in your tooth’s color or texture, could indicate early tooth decay, and appropriate treatment can help you avoid permanent tooth damage.
During your dental exam, your dentist may utilize digital imaging, such as digital X-rays and an intraoral camera, to better spot signs of tooth decay and other concerns. Digital radiology produces instant X-rays on a chairside monitor that you and your dentist can view together. Likewise, a tiny intraoral camera can project digital images of hard-to-view areas around and behind your teeth, allowing you and your dentist to get a clearer picture of your oral health.
The first stage of tooth decay is enamel erosion, or the degradation of the protective enamel that surrounds and protects your teeth. As the earliest phase of a cavity, enamel erosion isn’t always easily detectable, even with the help of digital X-rays. Therefore, your dentist might utilize DIAGNOdent—an advanced early cavity detection system that utilizes laser-based fluorescence to detect eroding areas of tooth enamel.