Your dentist may use several methods to identify tooth decay (also known as “dental caries” or “cavities”), including:
There are different ways your dentists can identify tooth decay. Some discolored spots on your teeth may indicate decay, but not all of them. Your dentist may use an explorer, a metal instrument with a sharp tip, to probe for possible decay. Healthy tooth enamel is hard and will resist pressure by the explorer. Decayed enamel is softer. The instrument will stick in it slightly. Explorers must be used with caution. Pressing too hard with an explorer can damage a healthy tooth. It can also spread the bacteria that cause decay to other teeth.
X-rays can show decay developing in the enamel on the sides of teeth where they come together, as well as in the dentin that lies under the enamel. X-rays are often not accurate in detecting smaller cavities on occlusal (top) surfaces. Current fillings or other restorations also may block the view of decay.
If you suspect you might be suffering from tooth decay, contact us today for a free dental consultation. Our trusted, experienced dentists can help you identify tooth decay. To learn more about tooth decay visit, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cavities/symptoms-causes/syc-20352892.