The "Kavo" Diagnodent was developed to assist in the early detection of caries, specifically in the pits and fissures or grooves in the biting surface of back teeth. It uses laser technology to "see" into these fissures that are too small to inspect with the human eye, or to feel with the dental probe.
For those technically minded, the scientific background is as follows: A laser diode provides pulsed light of a defined wavelength that is directed onto
the tooth. When the incident light meets a change in tooth substance, it stimulates fluorescent light of a different wavelength. This is translated through the handpiece into a signal, and the wavelength is then evaluated by an appropriate electronic system in the Kavo Diagnodent control unit. A numerical evaluation is registered on the unit as well as an audible signal.
In other words, a laser is directed at the tooth, and what is reflected back
is measured and evaluated. Because decay has a characteristic fluorescence, it is specifically targeted by the computerised technology in
the unit, and we are given a signal to indicate that caries has been detected.
When a dental probe will not fit into the very narrow fissures, and one cannot see into these fissures, it is often impossible to detect caries by traditional methods. The Diagnodent allows us to investigate these fissures accurately and very predictably. In this way, we can find caries in its earliest stages, and deal with it before it progresses to become a more serious problem.
By the time we can detect dental carries today, through X-ray and visual exams, they are often 2 years old or older; with the Diagnodent, we can detect a lesion near inception.