Thermal imaging is an effective, radiation-free way to examine oral health issues and pain conditions. A healthy jaw will have even heat patterns throughout, while inflammation or infection will appear in higher temperatures on a thermal image.
Dental thermography can more accurately identify facial pain reducing unnecessary root canal treatments or extractions and other invasive treatments.
There are three ways that thermal imaging can help in dentistry. It can identify if an existing root canal has chronic inflammation infection in the surrounding tissue, it can identify if a cavitation exists (an extraction site that has infection in the jaw bone below the gum tissue), and it can identify if an abscess is beginning to develop.
In a root canal, the dentist severs the nerve connection to ensure there is no pain but pain acts as a warning system that something is wrong. When a patient has no symptoms of pain or discomfort they assume that all is well. But if an infection develops they have no way of knowing it. By then an infection could have there for years and have created other health issues. Chronic inflammation has been accepted as “the silent killer” that leads to chronic disease, heart disease, and cancer. Root canals are inherently susceptible to infection and inflammation.
While x-rays do identify some infection, they are simply not designed to identify sites of chronic heat, inflammation and infection as subtly as thermography. That is what is unique about thermal imaging! It can pick up areas of chronic heat before the challenged site develops into a crisis situation.
Tell your dentist you would like them to add thermal imaging as a screening technology for chronic oral infections so that you and your dentist may be proactive in your dental health.