Article in Davis Enterprise, "Dr. Tran enlightens us on transillumination."

Apr 1 • 3 minute read

Dr. Tran enlightens us on transillumination



Everyone is concerned about oral hygiene and the condition of their teeth. But almost nobody in town is more prepared to battle cavities than Dr. Sang Tran at Varsity Dentistry in Davis. From preventing cavities with teeth cleanings to treating parts of teeth that are weak and broken down Tran has been helping patients with their dental needs since 2000. 

The days of relying solely on the human eye and poking at dark regions of teeth to see if they are stains or cavities are over. Tran explains that not too long ago teeth might appear healthy and whole on an X-ray, so no treatment would be recommended. Now, when he uses a transillumination scan, he can find early cavities that wouldn’t be revealed on an X-ray. “This new technology is better than regular X-rays at identifying small cavities,” Tran said, “and by treating previously undetected small cavities earlier, patients can preserve more of their natural teeth.” Another example of an X-ray’s shortcoming is that it won’t reveal the area where misaligned teeth overlap. Transillumination takes the stage in revealing what’s hidden even through the overlapped teeth. Tran reminds us that all of this is not to say that X-rays are not still important — they are. X-rays are still needed to see if a deep cavity is approaching the nerve, show progression of gum disease and spot some forms of jaw cancer.

At Varsity Dentistry, the search for the cure for cavities is underway; in the meanwhile the goal is to catch cavities as early as possible to avoid complications. Cavities caught late in the game could mean deeper and larger fillings. Even more concerning is when the fillings get larger the perimeter of the tooth gets weaker. This perimeter wall acts like I-beams of the tooth. Once compromised, you have a much weaker tooth. Emphasizing how important the outer wall of a tooth is, Dr. Tran gives a plug for flossing: “Flossing is very important because cavities between teeth will compromise the walls not only of one tooth, but possibly its neighboring tooth as well.” If cavities are caught early, then the need for crowns and root canals can be avoided. This will save on patient’s health, time and pocketbook because treatment will be less costly and less invasive.

Aside from transillumintion scans, other innovative methods of oral care implemented at Varsity Dentistry include techniques to get at cavity causing bacteria efficiently. In the past antibiotic treatments had limitations, so Tran utilizes a treatment protocol by Caries Management by Risk Assessment (CAMBRA). By treating the acid producing bacteria and strengthening weakened enamel, Dr. Tran is trying to bring the microenvironment of the mouth back to pre-cavity conditions. Another innovative treatment involves the use of silver-diamine fluoride, which can be painted onto teeth to slow developing cavities. The major takeaway is that Tran’s cutting-edge approach to dentistry allows for early detection of problems or better yet, treats the causes of failing oral hygiene, like disease and bacteria, as opposed to focusing on patients’ symptoms.

The team at Varsity Dentistry is actively pursing the best treatments for their patients, and is empowering them to pursue their own oral health goals by offering a free copy of “Balance” a book written by V. Kim Kutsch, DMD. This book is based on current research in cariology (the study of cavities), including research by Dr. Tran’s professor, Dr. Douglas Young, at University of the Pacific. The 108-page book complements the care and expertise patients will find at Varsity Dentistry, and will help enlighten patients in better managing cavities as well as their general oral health. Stop by Varsity Dentistry at 1756 Picasso Ave., Suite D, in Davis, for a complimentary copy of “Balance.” 

1756 Picasso Avenue, Suite D · Davis, CA 95618
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