The Importance of Dental X-Rays

Westgate Family Dental

x-rayHave you ever wondered why we take dental x-rays once a year? Sometimes the response from patients is they think that it isn’t pertinent or do not want to get exposed to radiation. At Westgate Family Dental we want to set up our patients with success and manageable oral health that doesn’t turn into expensive dentistry. This all starts with frequency. And with frequency we mean, cleanings every 6 months, exam 2 x’s a year and x-rays 1 x year. This sometimes seems like a lot, but look at as an investment into your oral health. And here’s why…

For starters we use digital sensor x-ray technology which is proven to be the safest and smallest form of radiation. Meaning, there is a 70% decrease in exposure to radiation than tradition x-ray films. On top of that, you receive more exposure to radiation from the being in the sun for…

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The Importance of Dental X-Rays

x-rayHave you ever wondered why we take dental x-rays once a year? Sometimes the response from patients is they think that it isn’t pertinent or do not want to get exposed to radiation. At Westgate Family Dental we want to set up our patients with success and manageable oral health that doesn’t turn into expensive dentistry. This all starts with frequency. And with frequency we mean, cleanings every 6 months, exam 2 x’s a year and x-rays 1 x year. This sometimes seems like a lot, but look at as an investment into your oral health. And here’s why…

For starters we use digital sensor x-ray technology which is proven to be the safest and smallest form of radiation. Meaning, there is a 70% decrease in exposure to radiation than tradition x-ray films. On top of that, you receive more exposure to radiation from the being in the sun for 20 minutes than you would in a lifetime of dental x-rays once a year. For example, according to recent statistics, “a full series of 18 dental X-rays has 27 times less radiation than a lower gastrointestinal (GI) series and 20 times less radiation than one year of normal background radiation from the environment. The 4 bitewing X-rays taken during dental checkups have 79 times less radiation than a year of normal background radiation.” Digital x-rays are safer, clearer, and instantaneous; they also give us better diagnostic information than traditional films. We are able to diagnose better as clinicians and see things we were unable to measure and see before.

Frequency and Reason

Why do I even need x-rays and why do I need them so often?

First of all, without x-rays it is impossible to complete a full examination of the mouth. X-rays show us teeth, bone, tissues and cavities which better help us diagnose as they show us hidden dental artifacts and structures such as impacted wisdom teeth, bone loss and decay, all things that sometimes cannot be seen during a visual examination as these can be hidden either under tooth structure or tissue. Using x-rays during our examination allows comprehensive diagnosis and allows us to take care of smaller issues before they grow into larger, progressed lesions (cavities), abscesses, cysts, growths, bone loss or deterioration of tissues. If these things are caught early, they are more likely easier to treat and less inexpensive. Without x-rays, it is like driving blind and likely that decay in between the teeth can be missed in its early stages.

What are the different types of x-rays?

In our office we take different types of x-rays, for different types of reasons…

Bitewing X-Ray
bwxThese are called cavity detection x-rays. These are the x-rays we take once a year during one of your two cleaning appointments. These pictures show cavities between the teeth, bone loss and tissue recession. These x-rays are so vital to a complete examination; it is like getting your oil changed without putting oil in your car. You could probably start up your car and drive for a while but over time things will self-destruct. We do not take x-rays to make money; we simply do it because that is standard ADA protocol and it is to better help and serve our patients dental needs long term. By taking these x-rays once a year we are able to diagnose early on and avoid expensive treatment in the future.

Full Series of X-Rays or FMX
We take a full series of x-rays every 3-5 years. This series of x-rays shows us everything; we are able to see teeth, tissues, bone, hidden tooth structures and the roots of your teeth. These x-rays show us the entire crown down to the rip of the root; they also assist us in diagnosing any abnormalities in the root and bone structures in addition to abscesses, these are called periapical x-rays.

Panoramic or Pano
If there are issues with the development of wisdom teeth and possible impaction, we will take a panoramic x-ray. The reason for this x-ray is it is a full x-rays showing us the entire mandible, mandibular nerve structure and where the wisdom teeth are in relation to this nerve. panoIt also shows the magnitude of impactions, and also assists us in implant placement by allowing us to measure the depth of bone. This can also assist in the discovery of tumors in the jaw bone as well.

When it comes to your oral health, x-rays are our best defense to the potential threatening oral diagnosis. X-rays allow us to see what we can’t see with the naked eye and in return create a more accurate treatment plan that represents the patients without guesswork. In the end, we are able to keep your dental costs down, by taking dental x-rays by catching things early on instead of allowing decay, bone loss, tissue recession, and abscesses to go without diagnosing. In the end, we want what is best for our patients, more importantly we want our patients to know and understand why we do what we do. Our patient’s best interest is always our highest priority!

5 Simple Oral Hygiene Tips

vectorstock_117370Life has become more and more demanding every day and sometimes our oral healthcare takes a backseat as a result. In addition to having your teeth professionally cleaned/examined every 6 months, there are some home care tips that will help you maintain your oral health in between your 6 month checkups. You have to view your oral healthcare as maintenance and for lack of a better analogy you can compare your mouth to your car. Every 3-5000k miles we have our oil/filter changed to help maintain our engines and longevity of our car. In addition to that regularly scheduled maintenance, and driving reasonably we can prolong the longevity of our vehicle’s life far longer than if we didn’t. This plays true in oral healthcare as well. Over time, if you do not have good home care and you forego your regular cleanings/exam, a plethora of issues can occur such as: periodontal disease, bone loss, tooth loss, cavities and costly dentistry. Here are some home care tips that can help you effectively maintain your oral healthcare.

Brushing

vectorstock_995024Daily brushing is the most important first step anyone can take in achieving healthier oral hygiene. Brushing not only cleans the teeth but if done correctly, it cleans the gums as well. Trying to brush at least 1x day is good, but 3x’s daily is ideal. Brushing after every meal is even better, as you can remove plaque from your teeth and gums created from the food we eat. Also, using an electric toothbrush, any electric toothbrush is a worthy compliment to any brushing regiment. An electric toothbrush is able to do a more thorough job than the human hand and it implements the elliptical motion that is most effective when brushing. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on an electric toothbrush; you can purchase a $10 Crest toothbrush at your local grocery store or pharmacy. Make sure you use a soft or super soft brush head and when brushing let the electric toothbrush do the work. If you are manually brushing your teeth, brush in an elliptical motion (circular) and massage the gums as well as the teeth!

Flossing

Flossing is the most overlooked home care routine; yet the most imperative to your oral healthcare. Flossing is an assistant to your brushing; floss can get down beneath the gums and clean the roots of the tooth where the brush is incapable of accessing. The biggest technique error of flossing for most people is the idea that just flossing between the teeth is the accurate way to floss. This is partially true; flossing in between the teeth is just part of it; when flossing, it is essential to floss on both sides of the teeth and below the gum line as well. This in turns massages the gums, keeps the blood flowing to the tissues, and also removes plaque and debris from below the gum line in turn keeping your bone/tissue healthy and strong which in turn keeps your teeth healthy and strong. Flossing 1 x’s a day is great, flossing 2x’s a day is ideal. Then there is that common complaint of bleeding gums when flossing. Look at flossing like working out. The first time you work out ever, you find yourself sore and tired the next day. Think of flossing as the same thing, the more you floss the more you increase blood flow to the gums and maintain health gum tissue. After a couple for weeks of flossing, you will find that the bleeding will decrease and eventually stop all together.

Oral Rinse

Rinsing your mouth with antiseptic mouthwash will also help keep your mouth clean and free of bacteria. Mouth Rinse does not take the place of brushing and flossing your teeth, it simply helps with your oral health by killing bad bacteria inside of your mouth, on your gum tissues and teeth. There are several mouthwashes to choose from; however antiseptic mouthwashes are your best bet.

Drink Water

vectorstock_741920Believe it or not, drinking water can help with your oral health care. It is possible that you might not be able to brush your teeth after every meal; by drinking water throughout the day you can increase your salivary flow and also wash food particles away from your teeth and gums. This doesn’t take the place of brushing or flossing, but it will certainly help from a preventative standpoint. Not only is water better for your oral health but it is better for your overall health!

Xylitol Gum

If you choose to chew gum, chew sugar free gum with Xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener and is dynamically helpful for dental health, by reducing cavities by a third in regular use, and has also been shown to decrease the frequency of acute middle ear infections. “Early studies from Finland in the 1970s found compared to chewing sucrose-flavored gum, Xylitol resulted in nearly two fewer cavities or missing teeth.[15] Cavity-causing bacteria prefer six-carbon sugars or disaccharides, while Xylitol is non-fermentable and cannot be used as an energy source, interfering with bacterial growth and reproduction.”

By taking a few extra steps in sustaining a healthier approach to your oral health care, you can reduce cavities, bone loss and long term oral health problems. By adapting just a few of these tips, you can reinvent a healthier, happier you! And by all means, Smile!!!!