What if, during a dental checkup, a dentist or hygienist could predict whether or not you have a chance of getting a cavity. Would you be interested in finding out what your future may hold? Would you like to have an idea of what costs and time lay ahead for you if you continue down the road to decay?
It is possible. When visiting the dental office we can tell you if you have a chance for decay.
There are many ways to identify if fillings, or crowns, are in your future. Let’s take a look at how we make a prediction at your appointment.
We have the ability to deduce whether or not you will have future decay by looking at your past:
A mouthful of dental work indicates that at some time in your past that you had decay. Those fillings and crowns tend to breakdown and allow bacteria from your mouth to seep into the areas around the fillings. This bacteria and the acid it produces breaks down the tooth structure from the inside out. Metals fillings cannot be x-rayed through so seeping decay around fillings can only be visualized with our eyes. Grayness indicates his seepage has occurred and the filling or crown is failing.
We can predict what the future holds by looking at your present:
If your dentist has found decay that has reached the inner part of the tooth and a hole is felt then you have a carious infection aka decay. The bacteria that causes infection does not just go away when the tooth is filled or fixed. The bacteria that remains has the potential to attack other areas of your mouth by producing more acid attacks thus more cavities. * Recent decay in close family members makes a patient at high risk for decay, too.
The amount of saliva you have will determine the cleanliness of your teeth. Saliva not only helps us when we chew and swallow but it has the ability to wash away food particles and buffer our saliva (see pH in next section). Many drugs that we take will diminish the flow of this miracle fluid and increase our chances of dental decay. Not enough saliva puts you at risk for more cavities.
X-rays are essential for us to see if you have incipient, or beginning, decay in areas we cannot see with our eyes. These lesions are detectible on an x-ray and show decalcification of the outer layer of the tooth, your enamel. What this means is that we can see that the enamel is not as strong but a hole has not been created yet. If changes are not made to your mouth’s environment the decalcification can turn into decay.
An acidic saliva erodes the teeth just as acid erodes other structures. Plaque bacteria creates acid. Nutrition plays a part in pH, too. A test can be done to determine your pH level.
It surprises many dental professionals that many patients refuse the diagnostic tests that could potentially save them hours of time and hundreds of dollars. The fees for x-rays, pH testing (and the nutritional counseling involved with changing pH) and home care instructions (to reduce bacterial levels) are minimal compared to the money and time needed to fix the problem.
So the question remains – can dental professionals predict a person’s chances of having cavities? The answer is yes, we do have the ability to determine if you are at risk if you allow the tests to help make that determination. Help us help you. Is a nominal fee worth having the knowledge of what the further holds?