Diagnosing Pediatric Cavities

Cavities Hide

Cavities can be hard to see, especially when they are first starting. That is why we use a variety of technologies to help find a cavity, no matter how small or hidden away it is, so your child’s smile can be free of decay.

Diagnostic Tool Options

On large, smooth tooth surfaces, we might use a common dental explorer to gently touch each tooth’s surfaces. If the explorer catches on a soft spot, we know that spot could be the beginning of a cavity.

The X-ray is an excellent diagnostic tool to search for cavities between teeth or under the gums. But X-rays can show only a side view of a tooth.

The biting surfaces of teeth can have deep pits and fissures where cavities can be very difficult to find. We can use a special light that detects cavities that are hiding between teeth, in deep grooves and under the enamel. This light can also notice changes in tooth structure that signal the start of a cavity. In that case we may be able to strengthen the tooth’s surface and reverse the damage.

Treatment Options

If we find a suspicious area, we have several treatment options:

  • Early stages of decay may need only a fluoride treatment in the office.
  • We may recommend a remineralizing toothpaste or home fluoride treatments.
  • We might use air abrasion to clean out minor surface decay.
  • A more advanced cavity could need a restoration or a root canal procedure.


Our goals are to find a cavity early to avoid complicated restoration procedures and to prevent further decay so your child can have a healthy, beautiful smile.

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