Cavity finding pen
August 29, 2019 6:02 PM   Subscribe

My former dentist had a little device that made a humming noise as it touched my teeth. When it touched a tooth with the beginning of a cavity (I guess an area of demineralization?)... the pitch of the hum would change. What's that machine called? Secondary question- if I do have areas of demineralization, is it possible to fix them without drilling so they don't become cavities?
posted by nouvelle-personne to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Probably a Diagnodent. As far as second question, it depends.
posted by Cuspidx at 6:11 PM on August 29, 2019

Remineralizing toothpastes exist--well, they say they do that on the box. I use this expensive stuff that's a Japanese brand. Can't tell you if it's worked or not, because while I haven't had any cavities since I started using it, I also hadn't had any cavities for a long time previously. (I have a mild dentist phobia, so figured anything that might reduce the chance I get another cavity was worth it.)

You can also get remineralizing toothpastes in Canada and some other countries. I don't think they've been approved by the FDA yet, so may not be available over the counter in the US. I could be wrong about that, though.
posted by telophase at 6:31 PM on August 29, 2019

With regard to your second question, see: 'No Drill' Dentistry Shows Fillings Aren't Needed in Many Cases
posted by alex1965 at 6:31 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

From that article:
early decay that haven't yet created cavities are detected and treated with a high-concentration fluoride varnish,

That’s why we put fluoride in toothpaste too, btw: even cheap old Aquafresh will help remineralize your teeth, that’s what fluoride does, that’s the point.

Your dentist can apply or prescribe a high concentration fluoride treatment, if they think it will help you. And if they are reticent, ask why and consider a second opinion.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:59 PM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sensodyne from England, with Novamin is another such toothpaste. Note, you need the English product, not the same brand from the US. As for whether it works, my answer is the same as telophase's answer.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:00 PM on August 29, 2019

Seconding Diagnodent.

For your second question: I used a prescription cavity-preventing toothpaste for years with no measurable improvement and averaged 2 fillings per year and a root canal every other year, but have literally not had a filling since I started using an electric toothbrush four years ago. There were several spots that the Diagnodent identified as things to watch at that time, but the electric toothbrush seem to have staved off the need to drill. YMMV but it's certainly worth a try.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:04 PM on August 29, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am really prone to cavities and tooth decay, so I use something called GC Tooth Mousse. I think it is helping to protect my teeth from additional damage.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 8:26 PM on August 29, 2019

My teeth make enamelomas naturally and my tooth root healed on its own last year. My awesome dentist just waited and kept x-raying the root over a period of monthly intervals, showing me how my body was closing up the wound.

I used to consume a lot of rice vinegar, mango juice, dried apricots, and other foods that were hard on my teeth. I have really changed my diet to encourage my teeth to remineralize, and I have noticed a real difference in tooth sensitivity. Since I started using flouride fortified toothpaste, my teeth have become noticeably stronger. So, all this to say also consider changing your diet to encourage stronger teeth as well.
posted by effluvia at 8:49 PM on August 29, 2019 [2 favorites]

My teeth are pretty heavily deineralized. Five years or so ago besides a fluoride toothpaste and electric brush (which for me significantly decreased plaque build up compared to a manual brush, cleanings are faster and easier) I was advised to rinse daily with a fluoride mouthwash (I just buy whatever is cheapest alcohol free version available). This seems to made a huge difference - demineralized areas are no longer advancing to cavities. My understanding is demineralization isn't reversible but the fluoride strengthens the weak areas.

My Dentist also does the fluoride sealer thing at each cleaning. Don't know if it makes a difference but it is paid for by my insurance.

My municipality has stopped fluoridating water.
posted by Mitheral at 10:24 PM on August 29, 2019

GC Tooth Mousse fixed exactly this for me - just double / triple all time intervals in the official instructions, both for swishing it and for not rinsing, drinking or eating afterwards. Night and day difference in my enamel apparently, and fifteen years later I still have all my own teeth.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 3:45 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! Follow-up question: is using over the counter fluoride stuff still safe if I get pregnant?
posted by nouvelle-personne at 8:30 AM on August 30, 2019

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