How We Detect Cavities


detect cavities

Most people have had a cavity or two during their life. Cavities are also known as tooth decay, and that decay can happen anywhere there is a tooth. Sometimes, cavities seem to form overnight, even though the process actually takes a lot longer than that. If you see the dentist often, then we can detect cavities while they are still small. Dentists have been using various methods to detect cavities over the years. One of the most popular methods is through digital x-rays. We can pass x-ray particles through your mouth, which will produce an image of your jaws and teeth for us to view. In those x-rays, we can pinpoint where tooth decay is forming and help stop its progression. Learn about how we detect cavities and why it’s important that we do!


What Is A Cavity?

You may know the term “cavity” by some of its other names: dental caries or tooth decay. All refer to the decay of your teeth due to plaque. The American Dental Association states that tooth decay is “the destruction of your tooth enamel.” This is the hard, outer layer of your teeth. When you eat or drink, sugars mix with bacteria in your mouth to make an acidic substance. That substance is a sticky film that we call plaque. Plaque sits on your teeth and erodes them over time. If you brush your teeth often, then you are brushing away the plaque that weakens your tooth enamel. If you don’t keep up on your oral health habits, then plaque can weaken your enamel enough to decay it and get inside your tooth.


Once inside, it will decay the soft center of your tooth even faster. This is where your nerves are and why you will feel pain and sensitivity if a cavity is large enough. Millions of people have had cavities in their lifetime. In fact, studies show that about 91% of U.S. adults between 20 and 64 have dental caries. After age 65, that percentage rises to 96%. The key to avoiding tooth decay is to brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day. Another tip is to visit the dentist often so that the dentist can detect cavities when they are small and less damaging.


CariVu Technology to Detect Cavities

Many dental offices use digital x-rays to detect cavities. In our office, we use digital radiography, allowing us to take x-rays with significantly less radiation than normal film x-rays. Using this technology, we are able to take an x-ray of your mouth by using a small sensor. This records the images of your mouth and sends them to our computer. Through x-rays, we can detect cavities. However, CariVu technology is a much better way to detect cavities. This is one of the best dental caries devices currently on the market. Dental caries is the scientific name for cavities. X-rays help so much in detecting cavities, but they have their limitations.


Many times, it’s very difficult to see cavities until they have grown large. CariVu technology creates more accurate images of your teeth through bathing them in safe, near-infrared light. When this transillumination technology is used, your tooth enamel will appear transparent on our images. When we shine the light on your teeth, areas of tooth decay will absorb the light and appear dark. This amazing technology allows us to see inside your tooth to examine its exact structure and the exact size, shape, and location of tooth decay. With CariVu, we can see a cavity in its beginning stages, which is something we can’t always do with x-ray imaging. We love using CariVu technology to eliminate tooth decay quickly and easily and to help you avoid lengthy dental procedures.


What Happens Next?

Once a cavity has been found, we need to remove it from your tooth in order to stop the tooth decay. If left alone, the tooth decay will continue to spread, destroying as much of your tooth as possible. This can lead to infections, tooth sensitivity, pain, lengthy dental procedures, and complete loss of the tooth. You never want to let a cavity go untreated. It’s hard to know if you have a cavity unless you come into the dental office. Once we do find a cavity, we treat it by removing the decayed part of the tooth and provide you a filling in its place.


A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay or trauma back to its normal function and shape. If you have a tooth that requires a filling, Dr. Niles will first remove any decayed tooth material, clean the affected area, and then fill the cleaned-out cavity with a filling material. Fillings are great for your teeth because they help prevent further decay by closing off any cracks or spaces where bacteria can enter. Instead of silver metal fillings used in the past, Dr. Niles uses composite resins, which means we use filling that matches the exact color of your teeth.


Have Your Cavity Treated!

If you have been feeling tooth sensitivity or pain, or if it’s simply time for your dental cleaning, come into Dr. Niles office to be treated! Sensitivity and pain are signs of a cavity or other dental issue. The American Dental Association recommends that every patient see their dentist at least twice a year for a comprehensive exam and cleaning. This allows us to detect cavities before they become large, which is what you want. Let us help detect cavities early and keep your teeth healthy! Call Niles Family Dentistry today at (303) 652-0400 to schedule your appointment!


Ashley Niles

Leave Comment