Today we wanted to talk about something that we use here in the office when we diagnose treatment. This particular instrument is called Diagnodent and it is a laser specifically used to measure density in the tooth. When we shine the laser light onto tooth structure, the light is then reflected back into the device and gives us a reading of how dense the tooth is. A loss in density means decay is starting. When we look at the readings, anything under 20 on the scale is considered a “watch tooth”. We mark it on the chart to recheck this tooth at your next exam. Anything over a 20 is considered needing treatment, which could mean something as simple as a composite filling, or something more involved such as an onlay or a crown. This device is helpful because sometimes decay is not visible to the naked eye, or even under magnification! And x-rays can only show us about 30% of non-visible decay, so having the Diagnodent is a useful tool for early detection of decay, and for “seeing” what we cant see!

Here is an example of a tooth that to the eye, looks normal. No visible decay.

(This next part of this post is taken from

diagnodentBefore opening the tooth after use of Diagnodent dental laser. There is no visible decay and often these types of cavities do not show on x-ray.

diagnodent2This is the giant cavity found below the surface with the Diagnodent. It would have been impossible to notice until total disaster struck.

Think all you need to do to prevent dental problems is brush your teeth? THINK AGAIN!

The brush is an important thing you can do to keep teeth and gums healthy. The brush can disrupt the bacteria that cause decay and gum problems. That helps. But the floss is probably your best line of defense– AT EARLY STAGES OF THE DISEASE PROCESS.

Later on, though, other specialized tools and techniques may be needed to get rid of the germs and germ waste products that plaque your gums and your teeth.

This is where our staff can really contribute to your long-term success by crafting a personalized preventive program just for you.

And this needs to be revisited every time you come back to see us. Things are always changing!

The Diagnodent is used in harmony with our philosophy of being minimally invasive. We like to preserve as much natural tooth as possible. Treating decay early helps us preserve more of your natural tooth, and this tool is invaluable in detecting that at it’s very first signs.

To your health,
Dr. Richard Stickney


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