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The Evolution of Caries Dental Detection Technology 2021


The evolution of caries dental detection technology has made it possible for dentists to employ more than one method of detection. Today’s dentists must be able to detect both obvious and undetectable deterioration. Cavity detection is substantially easier as a result of this. Dentists are uniquely qualified to detect even the tiniest cavities and treat them effectively and promptly.

The Evolution of Dental Technology And Cavity Prevention

If you have ever had a case where cavity detection was questionable, just think of the dentists decades before you who did not have the clean, clear technology we have today. Here’s a look at some of the different methods and types of technology from the earliest to the latest ones used to diagnose cavities:

The Trusted Old Visual Inspection

Looking for changes in the enamel surface of the tooth is a traditional, tried-and-tested cavity detection method. The dentist will look for brown, black, gray, and white stains on a patient’s teeth.

This is also when dentists look for any stains around the edges of existing fillings or crowns you have. Since they sometimes can be an indication that decay is starting or will be developing soon in these areas. While the visual inspection is likely part of your current diagnostic exam, we know dentists have to rely on more than a visual inspection these days.


Exploration is another traditional and commonly used method for detecting dental caries. The dentist will run a metal instrument over the tops of your teeth. If the fine-tipped explorer gets caught in the pits of soft enamel, your dentist will immediately know the tooth has a cavity. Not always the most accurate diagnostic tool but still a common practice today.

Caries Detector Dyes

Another old and effective method of detecting cavities is using caries detector or disclosing dyes. The dye is used to provide the dentist with a visual of the location of the cavities. It was applied directly to the tooth or teeth that the patient and dentist suspect of having dental caries. We wrote about this in a previous post in more detail. While this is not a method patients prefer or dentists use regularly it is still a technique taught in dental school today.

Intraoral Camera

Intraoral cameras are small, pen-like tools dentists use to take a closer look at the inside of your mouth and locate decay before it can destroy the tooth surface.

When your dentist uses an intraoral camera, patients won’t feel any pain or discomfort. Dr. Ben Kacos, dentist in Shreveport LA, says this is the best dental technology he’s added to his practice. He simply hovers the tip of the camera around the inside of the patient’s mouth to take images. These images will then be projected onto a nearby screen which you and your patient can see together.

The best and latest intraoral cameras bring the smallest details into vivid full-screen high-resolution focus. These images will help dentists have an easier time detecting even the smallest dental cavity.

Sub-enamel Illumination

Lastly, sub-enamel illumination is the preferred way for dentists to diagnose hard-to-see cavities. These devices are handheld wand-like tools used to detect interproximal dental caries.

The LUM device applies a high-intensity light source to the tooth. If the tooth is unhealthy or has impurities such as cavities or fractures, the light is dispersed and will show up clearly in X-ray-like images.

Sub-enamel illumination is one of the best dental caries detection technologies today.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in August 2018 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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