The Science of Finding Cavities

Cavities, those little spots of decay that are caused by bacteria left to linger on the teeth. Nobody likes them, but nearly everyone has had one. The discovery of a cavity can be painful for some, but others wouldn’t  know that they had one until they head to their biannual check up at their Melbourne, Florida dentist. This can be a major problem. During your check up, Dr. Brazdo uses her years of expertise to find those cavities and fill them before they cause major decay.

What Is A Cavity?

Cavities are spots in your teeth where your enamel has been allowed to erode and exposes the dentin beneath. The enamel of your teeth is the hardest tissue in your entire body, and eroding it is no easy feat. However microscopic organisms called bacteria are able to erode this by digesting sugars that you consume. You can do your part to prevent cavities by brushing your teeth for two minutes twice every day and flossing them each day. By removing this bacteria and the sugars from the food you eat you can prevent the bacteria from digesting the sugar and creating an acidic environment that begins the erosion process. It can also prevent the bacteria from building up and forming plaque and tartar that contribute to the development of gum disease.

As the enamel is eroded bacteria is able to make its way into the dentin, the next layer of tooth tissue. Once this tissue has been breached it is only a matter of time before the pulp of the tooth is affected. This can become exacerbated when sugar is able to make its way into these eroded pockets. Once the decay makes it to the pulp of the tooth real problems arise. A bulk of the nerves in the teeth reside in the pulp, and if decay is allowed to reach this sensitive tissue, a root canal may be necessary.

Discovering a Cavity

Cavities take roughly six months to develop depending on how much preventative precautions you take, and your unique genetic make up. Some people have weaker enamel and are therefore more prone to cavities. You may think that it is easy to discover that you have a cavity, however by the time you discover you have a cavity, it may be more advanced than it has to be. For most people feeling a sudden pain or tooth sensitivity is the first indication they have of a cavity. This pain is caused by the exposed nerves, however by making sure you see your dentist twice each year you can catch the development of cavities before they reach the nerves in your teeth.

Dr. Brazdo can currently detect cavities in two ways, first by visual inspection, and second, with x-ray imaging. As you can imagine, if she detects a cavity via visual inspection, the cavity will be well-advanced. To fill the cavity your Melbourne Dentist will have to remove all the infected and decayed tissue and fill it with composite resin to halt the decay. By using x-ray imaging, Dr. Brazdo can detect them much sooner. Years of dental school has taught her how to spot cavities on the black and white images x-rays produce. By detecting them much sooner, she can remove a much more conservative amount of tooth. Excitingly enough, there is a new technology on the horizon that can help dentists around the world detect cavities sooner.

Thermophotonic Lock-in Imaging or TPLI is the promising new technology that may be a low cost way for dentists to detect cavities even sooner than before. This technology uses long-wavelength infrared lights to detect changes in density in the enamel of the tooth via thermal radiation emitted from the cavities after being exposed to a source light. Scientists have high hopes in this technology because in their tests TPLI was able to detect caries after 2 days of controlled acid erosion, whereas visual detection of a cavity was detected by dentist on day 10 of controlled erosion. This technology is not widely available as of yet, so Dr. Brazdo will continue to use her expertise in reading x-rays and visually detecting cavities to help discover any that have developed in your mouth.

If you have questions about what you can do to prevent cavities or how they will be filled if detected, do not hesitate to call our Melbourne, Florida office today!