Posts for: August, 2016
About 92% of people will experience a cavity at some point in their lifetime. Dental fillings, the treatment for cavities, is the most common dental procedure performed. Many cavities are hard to spot in their early stages and can be overlooked during a dental examination. However, DIAGNOdent laser cavity screening makes finding cavities in their early stages easier. Find out more about DIAGNOdent with Dr. W. Timothy Brooks in Huntsville, AL.
How does DIAGNOdent work?
At their earliest stages, dental caries, which eventually turn into cavities, are virtually undetectable with the naked eye. These tiny spots of tooth decay tend to hide within the tooth, turning a clean bill of dental health at one appointment into a full-blown cavity at the next check-up. DIAGNOdent uses a laser set to a certain frequency to detect small caries in the teeth. A handheld pen directed at the tooth takes a reading and allows your dentist to discover tiny caries which the eye cannot necessarily see on its own.
How can DIAGNOdent benefit me?
DIAGNOdent is about 90% accurate in detecting the early stages of tooth decay. Dental caries detected in these early stages allow for the most conservative treatment possible, keeping more of your natural tooth’s structure intact than if the cavity were allowed to grow until your next dental examination. This can also save time, as a smaller filling means a shorter procedure. Finally, detecting tooth decay early prevents an inevitable toothache which occurs when the decay reaches the inner pulp chamber of the tooth.
DIAGNOdent in Huntsville, AL
A DIAGNOdent screening lasts only a few minutes and allows your dentist to scan your entire mouth for decay. This painless procedure begins with Dr. Brooks directing a laser inside of the handheld pen at each tooth. The device gives off a reading and makes a noise when it detects decay on the tooth and that reading goes into a certain high range. This allows Dr. Brooks to pinpoint the decay and remove it before it becomes a more complex and painful condition.
For more information on DIAGNOdent laser cavity screenings, please contact Dr. Brooks in Huntsville, AL. Call (256) 883-8008 to schedule your appointment for a dental examination and cleaning today!
Since the late 19th Century, dentists have used established protocols to successfully prevent and treat tooth decay. But there've been changes to this approach the last few years to improve its effectiveness, changes we now refer to as Minimally Invasive Dentistry or MID.
The older approach for treating dental caries (tooth decay) follows the protocols established by Dr. G.V. Black, considered the father of modern dentistry. Black advocated removing not only decayed structure but also some of the healthier but vulnerable portions of a tooth, to avoid further decay and make the tooth easier to clean. This resulted in larger fillings, although they've become smaller as dental techniques have advanced.
MID, on the other hand, aims to remove as little tooth structure as possible while still effectively treating and preventing future decay. To achieve that goal we begin first with a complete assessment of a patient's individual decay risk, known as Caries Management By Risk Assessment (CAMBRA).
With CAMBRA, we're looking at other factors besides individual tooth health: a patient's hygiene, lifestyle and dietary habits; the types and amount of bacteria present; and the quality of saliva flow, needed to neutralize mouth acid. With these the results we develop a customized prevention and treatment strategy.
MID also focuses on detecting dental caries as early as possible. Besides traditional x-rays, we're beginning to use other methods like dental microscopes, laser fluorescence, infrared photography or optical scanning. Early detection leads to early intervention, and with techniques that are much less invasive than the traditional approach.
The new approach also changes how we repair decayed teeth. We're increasingly using air abrasion, a technology that uses fine particles in a pressurized air stream to remove softer decayed tooth material and less healthy structure than the traditional dental drill. We're also using composite resin and other advanced materials for filings: these tooth-colored materials are stronger than previous versions and are quickly taking the place of metal amalgam, requiring less structural removal to accommodate them.
MID's core principles are early disease detection, proactive prevention and treatment with less structural removal. With this enhanced approach to effective dentistry, we're keeping your teeth healthy with minimal discomfort, lower costs and less long-term impact.
Academy Award-winning actress Kathy Bates knows how important it is to present your best face to the world — and one of the most important features of that face is a beaming smile. But there came a point when she noticed something was a little off. “I've always had good teeth, but it seemed to me as I was getting older that they weren't looking as good,” Kathy explained in a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine.
That's when she decided it was time to take action. Kathy had orthodontic treatment when she was in her fifties, and she keeps her smile bright with tooth whitening treatments. She uses a kit provided by her dentist with a safe, effective whitening solution.
Of course, a bright, healthy smile looks great anywhere — whether you're on the red carpet or “off the grid.” And you don't have to be a Hollywood star to have professional whitening treatments. In fact, teeth whitening is one of the most popular and affordable cosmetic treatments modern dentistry offers.
The basic options for professional teeth whitening include in-office bleaching or take-home kits. Both types of dentist-supervised treatments offer a safe and effective means of getting a brighter smile; the main difference is how long they take to produce results. A single one-hour treatment in the office can make your teeth up to ten shades lighter — a big difference! To get that same lightening with at-home trays, it would take several days. On the plus side, the take-home kit is less expensive, and can achieve the same results in a bit more time.
It's important to note that not all teeth can be whitened with these treatments. Some teeth have intrinsic (internal) stains that aren't affected by external agents like bleaches. Also, teeth that have been restored (with bonding or veneers, for example) generally won't change color. And you can't necessarily whiten your teeth to any degree: Every tooth has a maximum whiteness, and adding more bleach won't lighten it beyond that level. Most people, however, find that teeth whitening treatments produce noticeable and pleasing results.
What about those off-the-shelf kits or in-the-mall kiosks? They might work… or they might not. But one thing's for sure: Without a dentist's supervision, you're on your own. That's the main reason why you should go with a pro if you're considering teeth whitening. We not only ensure that your treatment is safe — we can also give you a realistic idea of what results to expect, and we will make sure that other dental problems aren't keeping you from having a great-looking smile.
How often does Kathy Bates see her dentist for a checkup and cleaning? “I go about every four months,” she noted. “I'm pretty careful about it.” And if you've seen her smile, you can tell that it pays off. If you would like more information about teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered” and “Teeth Whitening.”