As Darth Vader knows, a laser is a valuable aid in taking out your enemies.
It turns out our Alma, MI dentist Dr. Thomas J. McDonald has a little something in common with the “Star Wars” bad guy. Like the Sith Lord, Dr. McDonald frequently arms himself with a laser on the job. Unlike Vader, though, he uses his laser for good, not evil.
Dr. McDonald uses his laser in the battle against tooth decay, every dentist’s sworn enemy. He uses the laser, a high-tech dental tool called DIAGNOdent, during your family’s dental exams.
If you want to experience our use of the latest dental technology, including DIAGNOdent, call Mid-Michigan Dental Excellence at 989-796-4848. Or make an appointment to visit our Alma, MI dentist office using our convenient online form.
Why a laser?
Changing Nature of Tooth Decay
It has to do with the changing nature of tooth decay and increased use of fluoride. For years, our primary tools for detecting cavities during dental exams were:
- the trusty dental probe
- X-rays of your mouth
And they worked well. But that was before our use of fluoride grew.
While the use of fluoride has largely been a good thing, it has also made it harder to detect some cavities. Fluoride makes the surface of your family’s teeth harder and more resistant to tooth decay. That’s a good thing, but it makes it tough to find cavities in their early stages when they are easiest to treat.
That’s because cavities that used to begin on those hard surfaces are now more often found in a softer layer of your teeth called dentin, inside all of those “valleys” on the chewing surfaces of your teeth.
Early Detection of Tooth Decay Is Important
Tooth decay does its damage from the inside out. The outside surface of your teeth still appears healthy. So we likely won’t find this kind of decay until it shows up on your X-rays or until we can actually see discoloration through the enamel. By then, the decay has already done a fair amount of damage.
We’ve talked about the importance of early detection on this blog before, most recently in our post about periodontal disease. It is important to detect tooth decay in its earliest stages, when a simple tooth filling can repair the dental damage.
If decay advances you may:
- need a root canal, if decay gets to the pulp inside your tooth and becomes infected
- need a dental crown to restore your tooth if it is damaged badly enough
- Or, worst-case scenario, need a tooth extraction
How Does DIAGNOdent Work?
So how does DIAGNOdent work?
Unlike Darth’s flashy red laser, you probably won’t even realize our Dr. McDonald is using a laser during your dental exam. The DIAGNOdent is a handheld tool that incorporates a Class 1 laser. The laser emits safe and painless pulses of light through your teeth. It is looking for fluorescence.
We take baseline readings of fluorescence for all of our patients. Healthy teeth have little, if any, fluorescence. So if we find fluorescence that is outside your healthy baseline range, it could indicate you have hidden tooth decay.
DIAGNOdent and Our Other Dental Technology
Dr. McDonald is a big believer is using the latest dental technology to treat patients at our Alma, MI dentist office. We’ve gone digital in a couple of key ways to make your visit a great experience:
- Digital panoramic X-rays. These give us instant, high-definition views of your mouth. And we don’t have to stick uncomfortable bitewings in your mouth to get the images.
- CEREC system. We use this tool to produce custom dental crowns for you in a single visit. It usually takes less than two hours. Compare this to the traditional method that takes at least two visits to your dentist and requires you to wear a temporary crown while you wait for a permanent dental crown to be produced at an off-site lab. You can read more about CEREC same-day dental crowns in this recent blog post.
Interested in finding out more about our services? We offer:
- General dentistry
- Cosmetic dentistry, including orthodontics
- Family dentistry
- Restorative dentistry
- Full-mouth reconstruction, including mini dental implants
- Oral surgery
- TMJ treatment
- Sleep apnea treatment