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Laser cavity detection is based on the fact that healthy tooth structure reflects light differently than it does decayed tooth structure. More simply, light easily penetrates healthy teeth. And on the flipside, light has a tougher time passing through dental cavities.
Dentists perform laser cavity detection by beaming laser light onto the chewing area of your teeth. The pen-like instrument that's used to probe the mouth in laser cavity detection is similar to a light wand. As Dr. Robin Kutner and Dr. Laurel Linetsky-Fleisher scans the chewing area of your teeth with this light wand, the attached readout portion of the laser cavity detection machine checks the density of your tooth structure and calculates the possibility of tooth decay. When increased light wavelengths register, your dentist is notified of a possibly compromised area from the readout, as well as the machine's auditory signaling system.
Early dental cavity detection means that in some cases, dentists can actually prevent the onslaught of cavities. When they find weak areas, fluoride may be prescribed to do battle with the would-be dental cavity, stopping it from ever forming. If a dental cavity is found before it invades the tooth's dentin (softer tissue below surface enamel) a dental sealant is sometimes indicated or, if necessary, a dental filling may be the prescribed course of dental treatment.