The diagnodent is a fairly new diagnostic instrument, in the new field of laser diagnostics. It is indispensable in finding early caries (cavities) in the grooves of teeth and around old fillings and under sealants. Before this technology, there was a certain amount of guesswork involved in early diagnosis of caries. Cavities under sealants sometimes grow quite large before they are detected. Early recognition of decay is very important to keeping fillings small and teeth strong. Before diagnodent many cavities were allowed to get bigger before they were eventually filled. Because there is a tendency to do nothing if the problem is not clear, dental cavities that should have been filled were allowed to develop into larger problems before they were confidently diagnosed. It was simply not possible to know the depth of a cavity until it became large enough to show up in an x-ray. The diagnodent has changed that.
Laser diagnostics has eliminated the guesswork. We can now shine a very particular wave length laser beam into a suspicious area on a tooth, or pass it over an existing sealant or filling. We can find out if the decay is superficial or passes deeper into the tooth beyond the enamel, and into the dentin. The beam excites the caries forming bacteria to ‘glow’ and emit fluorescence that is measured by a sensor in the tip of the diagnodent. This light probe tells us how deep the decay is. We don’t have to wait for the problem to get bigger to know a tooth needs treatment. So we can keep fillings smaller. Smaller fillings last longer and keep more tooth structure (stronger teeth). The diagnodent is consistently accurate and the benefits very tangible.