Preventive Dentistry: How is Tooth Decay Diagnosed at Your Dental Check-up?

Many people do not realize the importance of preventive dentistry. They may not like going to the dentist but are unaware that they could be doing things at home to improve their oral hygiene. There is no doubt that caring for one’s dental health is vital not only for eating but also for staying pain-free, since dental problems can lead to extreme pain. Understanding how tooth decay is diagnosed in the dental office can help people understand the importance of preventive dentistry.

What is used for diagnosis?

Pictures and x-rays

First and foremost, pictures and x-rays of the teeth are taken as a diagnostic measure at nearly all dental check-ups. A quick glance at these can reveal the general state of the teeth. This usually provides a good starting point for the dentists to decide which procedures should be done on the teeth and gums to restore their natural beauty and health.


After x-rays are taken, patients are typically seated in the patient chair and a dentist examines the teeth. Using a special type of ruler, the dentist takes measurements for how deep the pockets are between the teeth and the gums. This is the prime indicator for gum health and periodontitis. Extremely red and receding gums are a sign that bacteria has accumulated and gum disease has possibly set in. It is becoming obvious that preventive dentistry is not being practiced.


Cavities are a sure way to identify tooth decay. Cavities are holes in the teeth that are the result of long periods of tooth decay. These can be viewed easily in both pictures and x-rays, so the dentist knows right away that tooth decay has been occurring. The number and severity of cavities will allow the dentist to determine a proper plan of action by which to proceed.


Dentists use a special tool which, when dragged along the surface of a tooth, can provide insight to the contours of the tooth. Sometimes, tooth decay occurs without signs of discoloration, so this is extremely useful for identifying tooth decay that appears invisible to the naked eye.

Tooth decay treatment

Depending on the extent of tooth decay, there are many dental solutions to the problem. For deep cavities, there is no choice but to either drill away the decayed part and insert a filling or crown or to remove the tooth entirely and implant it with a new one. In any case, preventive dentistry is important for reducing the need for serious dental treatments.


Many patients can benefit from the renewed confidence, better chewing and resistance to cavities that preventative dentistry provides, but do not realize it. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call our office today.

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