How a Family Dentist Checks for Cavities

family dentist Surfside, FL

Cavities are one of the most common dental issues treated by a family dentist. Also called tooth decay, cavities can develop on any tooth and always seem to appear suddenly. However, the process takes longer. Visiting the dentist regularly is an excellent way to detect cavities when they are still small. Continue reading to know how a family dentist checks for cavities on the teeth.

Detecting cavities

A cavity is a decayed area of the tooth caused by plaque. Plaque is an acidic and sticky bacteria film that forms when the bacteria in the mouth mix with sugar from drinks and food debris. A cavity destroys the tooth enamel and makes the teeth vulnerable to infection. The following are methods used by dentists to check for cavities.

Visual examination

This is the most common way of checking for cavities. At this stage, the cavity may appear as severe discoloration, visible holes or enamel deterioration. If the cavity is visible to the naked eye, the patient may already be experiencing a degree of discomfort in the form of sharp pain or sensitivity. Many family dentists have a device called an intraoral camera that takes pictures of the teeth so that they can see the insides of the mouth. This camera can be used to the patient the location of the cavity.

Dental probe

Another way the family dentist can detect a cavity is to use a dental probe or explorer to examine the crevices of the tooth. As the dentist works their way around the teeth, the probe (small enough to enter tight spaces) will sink into any area with a cavity, thus identifying any compromised part of the enamel. This is a clear sign that tooth decay is present since the enamel is one of the stronger parts of the body. With this technique, the dentist can detect cavities that would otherwise be invisible to patients.

Dental x-rays

An x-ray is an excellent way to see a cavity, especially those between the teeth. Family dentists are trained to distinguish between healthy teeth and cavities on an x-ray scan, so patients might not fully understand what they see. On the image, a full, healthy and dense tooth enamel appears as white. If spots are present, which are called radiolucent that allow the passage of radio waves, it means the enamel is not dense in that area. This means that the cause is a cavity.

What happens after detecting cavities

If the family dentist finds a cavity, they will need to remove the decay to stop its spread. If untreated, the decay will continue to worsen and proceed to destroy most of the tooth’s structure. This may cause infections, pain, tooth sensitivity, extensive dental treatment or complete tooth loss. After removing the decay, the family dentist will likely cover the gap with a dental filling.

In conclusion

It is important that patients of all ages adopt healthy oral habits and visit the family dentist at least twice every year for a routine checkup and cleaning. These appointments allow them to check for cavities that may not be immediately apparent and correct them before they worsen.

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