To Floss or Not to Floss?

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When it comes to our health, there’s always more than one opinion about what’s right. It sounds ironic, but sometimes science isn’t always a science, and there seems to be a lot of wiggle room and opportunity for debate regarding best practices. Alcohol, for example, is said to be bad for us, although red wine is believed to have many health benefits. A similar dilemma, and perhaps more interesting to dentists, is that flossing is said both to spread bacteria around the mouth, and remove it. Which is it? Should we be flossing or not?

Two Sides to the Coin

If you were to ask two different dentists whether or not you should be flossing, you’d probably get two different answers. There’s a lot of confusion – even among the experts – when it comes to flossing, and that’s because there are studies that demonstrate evidence both for and against the technique.

Let’s see what these studies say…

* For Flossing

There are two significant arguments for flossing. The first, of course, is cosmetic, as regular flossing helps to remove trapped foods, especially in people with mild diastema. The second argument is that flossing has been shown to be effective at reducing the frequency of bleeding between the teeth. In fact, in this capacity, flossing could actually be twice as effective as a standard toothbrush. Flossing alongside toothbrushing has also been shown to reduce the risk of gingivitis (a form of periodontal disease).

* Against Flossing

There are some dentists who advise against flossing because of the risk of spreading bacteria around the mouth and increasing the risk of infection. While this can happen, we need to remember that bacteria can be spread around the mouth even without the use of floss, simply during our day-to-day activities. Some also say that flossing is ineffective. As we can see from the research above, it’s not, but it may not be the most effective solution. Antimicrobial mouthwashes, for example, are usually much better.

Time to Toss the Floss?

Whether or not a person wishes to floss should be their own personal decision. There is no right or wrong answer here. Flossing isn’t dangerous or painful when done correctly, and although flossing alone isn’t enough to maintain excellent oral health, it can be effective when used alongside other techniques, such as brushing and rinsing. If a person wishes to floss, dentists should advise that they…

  • brush and then floss, rather than the other way around. This is more effective overall.
  • use around 45 cm of floss, with approximately 2.5 to 5 cm of floss inserted between teeth.
  • gently curve the floss so that it is adjacent to the tooth, and tension can be felt.
  • see a dentist if flossing causes bleeding. This could be a sign of gingivitis or other disease.
  • use floss holders if flossing is difficult, to make the process much more simple.

Vaping and Oral Health

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It’s official: vaping is in. Everywhere you look, e-cigarette stores are opening and film and TV characters (not to mention real life celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio) are ditching their regular smokes in favor of top-of-the-line vaporizers. Perhaps most noticeable, though, is the debate raging between medical experts over whether or not the practice is safe enough as an alternative to smoking.

The Safety Argument

While some experts claim that the risks associated with e-cigarettes are too high for it to be condoned, others argue that compared to smoking, it’s the safer option by a long way. We’ve heard the experts discuss cancer risks and lung health, but a subject that far fewer people are discussing is the direct impact vaping could have upon oral health.

Mouth Irritation

One common complaint about e-cigarettes is that frequent use can lead to dryness, irritation and soreness of the mouth, throat and tongue. This is in some cases caused by an allergy to propylene glycol, an ingredient found in most e-liquids.

Vapers can also develop canker sores in the mouth; however, this is thought to be a side effect of quitting smoking. Canker sores aren’t typically a cause for concern but they can be unpleasant and unsightly, and can deter people from their normal oral hygiene practices due to the pain and heightened sensitivity.

The Effects of Nicotine

Nicotine – the addictive ingredient in tobacco and e-cigarettes – is a chemical which can cause a whole host of oral health issues. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which means it reduces the amount of blood flowing into your gums. This can cause gum recession and bad breath (as it limits the production of mouth-cleaning saliva). Nicotine is also a stimulant, which means it can cause you to grind your teeth more.

The key point to make here is that both regular cigarettes and most e-cigarettes contain nicotine – and in fact, e-cigarettes tend to contain less. However, because e-cigarettes can generally be used in more locations, it is possible that nicotine consumption from vaping could be the same as (or higher than) smoking for certain people.

Further Studies Needed

At the moment, not enough is known about how vaping affects the health of the mouth or body in the long term. Further studies are needed to firmly establish the risks associated with this practice.

However, when weighed against normal cigarettes, e-cigarettes do seem to pose less of a direct risk to oral health. This is largely because e-liquids contain much lower levels of toxic chemicals than normal cigarettes.

Oral Hygiene Tips for Vapers

Until more is learned about the association between e-cigarettes and oral health, vapers who are concerned about keeping their teeth and gums healthy should keep up good hygiene practices. This means brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, flossing and visiting your dentist for a check up at least once a year.

You can also combat the mouth dryness that vaping can cause by drinking more water, cutting out caffeine and using a mouthwash such as Biotene.

Hey sorry everyone but you probably keep flossing

Couple weeks ago the Associated Press dropped news that pretty much everyone has been waiting for: Little evidence exists that flossing actually does anything. And so the people collectively threw their minty-fresh, waxy threads into the trash and muttered, “Gobdanged dentist.”

But please, let’s all cool off for a moment, reach down into the trash can, and retrieve our floss. Because while it’s true that evidence in favor of flossing is lacking, you should probably still do it. Many dentists have known all along the research isn’t there, and they kept on recommending flossing anyway. Just hear me out—their intentions are pure. (Full disclosure: I was briefly a copy editor at a marketing firm for dentists. It was awful, and it in no way clouds my judgment with this story.)

Dentists tell their patients that flossing removes plaque from between teeth—gunky stuff that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. That’s the story, anyway. As the AP pointed out in their piece, studies haven’t confirmed flossing prevents decay and disease. And the ones that have shown some sort of benefit have been flawed, relying on too few subjects over too little time. Indeed, because the evidence just isn’t there, the feds last year stopped recommending flossing to the public.

Here’s the thing, though. The lack of evidence for the benefits of flossing is nothing new. “To be honest, many of us in the dental public health community have known for years that the information was sparse,” says Scott Tomar, editor of the Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice.

So why keep propagating the myth? Why force the public to stick their hands in their mouths? Well, because while the effectiveness of flossing isn’t proven, it’s also not disproven, at least not yet. Scientists are still gathering string—and it’s proving difficult.

Dental Bonding – A Solution to Chipped, Stained OR Gapped Teeth

Dental bonding is a type of cosmetic dental procedure. In which, the plastic materials called composite resins are used on person’s teeth to enhance aesthetic oral appearance. This substance is applied, shaped and polished according to individual’s own teeth tone and size and adapted to remaining teeth structure. It is mainly maneuvered to cure stained/discolored or chipped teeth improving one’s smile.

dental-bonding

When should I consider dental bonding?

Dental bonding needs to consider one’s right candidacy at first.

If you are with the following dental issues, you owe a consultation to your dentist:

  • Decayed tooth
  • Minor chips, cracks on teeth
  • Discolored/ugly teeth
  • Teeth gaps (spaces between teeth)
  • Poorly sized and shaped teeth (shorter in line with other teeth structure)
  • Receding gums (enhancing teeth structure to prevent loss to teeth root)

It fixes above oral issues and greatly beautifies facial look!

How is dental bonding performed?

The dental bonding is a special preparation that usually does not require the patient to undergo anesthesia. Fillings for tooth decays or sort of repairing may need it. To create the materials that can match one’s teeth color and tone very closely is the first step.

Next is a bonding process in which, the teeth surfaces are roughened to ensure material’s nice attachment to them. The resins that are specially prepared matching one’s teeth are then applied and shaped as planned. This material will now need to be hardened using special light or laser. Following is a final trimming, polishing and shaping until it looks quite adapting to the remaining structure of teeth.

Dental bonding usually takes from half an hour to an hour to complete.

What are the benefits of dental bonding?

The advantages of dental bonding are tremendous. As compared to other cosmetic dental surgeries, it is less expensive. Bonding will probably not require lab work to be created. They are made easily in offices except there are more teeth involved needing bonding.

Being most advantageous, it mainly does not require much of enamel scratching unlike some procedures like dental veneers or crowns.

Although the dental bonding treatment has some limitations like not too long durability or more vulnerability to cracks and breaks, many people choose it depending on their timely requirements and results. For minor cosmetic requirements, it’s a perfect oral solution.

Is dental bonding long-lasting?

Usually up to 4 years to 10 years span. At the same time, how you care for it will also decide its healthy life. Oral hygiene, prevention from harmful habits/materials is advised. In future, it can also be replaced or repaired with additional touches.

What is post-op care for dental bonding?

Not much, typically! Better oral hygiene, dental care with appropriate teeth brushing and flossing can preserve it well. Regular followup to your dentist for teeth cleaning is a preventive step for any discrepancy.

As we know it’s susceptible to cracks easily, avoid some habits like chewing hard foodstuffs or materials that can cause damage to bonding. If you notice something unusual with it, see your doctor immediately to have it corrected before further worsening.

How much dental bonding cost?

Not much costly against cosmetic dental treatments alike! As demography will vary, the costing will also. One can compare the prices of dental bonding city to city and country to country. Dental tourism is a face that is, at present, in high demand for its lower prices and quality treatments accessible worldwide!

3 Things Everyone Should Know About Their Dental Insurance

1) There are MANY different types of policies out there!
There are a lot of options when it comes to Dental Insurance, and what type of policy you or your employer has chosen will affect where you can go and whom you can see. The most common types of dental insurance are:


DHMO (Dental Health Management Organization):This type of policy requires you to stay within your insurance carrier’s contracted network of dentists. While often the most affordable, it is also the most limiting of the different policy types.

PPO (Preferred Provider Organization):There are two types of PPOs. Overwhelmingly popular is the variety that allows the patient to see doctors in or out of network with set percentages for each type of provider. There also exist PPO policies that require you to stay inside their network of doctors, though this is less common.

Fee for ServiceOften known as Dental Indemnity of Direct Reimbursement plans, this type of plan allows the patient to go in or out of network and pay a specific percentage for each procedure regardless.

Of the above, the Dental PPO is probably the most prevalent. Let’s take a look at what that typically comprises (you’ll see a lot of similarities in break-down here with DHMO and Fee for Service plans).

2) How a Dental PPO policy typically breaks down:
While every policy is different, there are some over-arching similarities in PPO dental insurance policies. Insurance companies will almost always break your coverage down into four major categories:

PreventativeThis will include services like cleanings, exams and often xrays.

BasicYou usually see fillings, root canals and periodontal work (dealing with your gums and bone) in this category.

Major: Crowns, bridges, dentures and other extensive work appear here.

Orthodontics: Insurance carriers may add orthodontic coverage to their policies, though often when they do it is limited to children. This varies WIDELY, so if it’s something you are interested in pursuing, make sure to call your carrier and check what benefits you have!

Each category will be covered at a different percentage by your policy, and may or may not be subject to a deductible. While this varies quite a bit from plan to plan, a typical policy will have:

Preventative:           80 – 100%, deductible does not apply

Basic:                            60 – 80%, deductible applies

Major:                           40 – 60%, deductible applies

A typical deductible will be between $25 and $100, with an annual maximum benefit of $1000 – $2000.

There are a few other key features of dental insurance that are worth noting when choosing a policy or examining your existing one. They are:

Waiting Periods: Some policies will institute waiting periods, either as a general rule or due to late entry to an existing group policy. These are typically in the 6 – 12 month range and usually only apply to basic or major services.

The Missing Tooth Clause:  Plans will either provide benefits for teeth you’ve lost before you had the policy or not. This is called the missing tooth clause. Some plans will put one in effect for only the first year or two that your coverage is in effect, creating a specific kind of waiting period.

Preventive FrequenciesMost plans will limit the number of times you can get preventative services within your benefit year (which may be different from a calendar year!). Typically you’ll see cleanings and exams allowed either twice a year or once every 6 months. These are not the same! One allows the cleanings to be anywhere in the year where the other dictates how far apart they must be. You’ll see a similar situation with xrays, which may need to be separated by anywhere from 1 to 5 years depending on the type. Make sure you and your dentist are paying attention to when these services are performed to get the most out of your benefits!

3) You may have Out of Network Benefits you’re not using!
A lot of people think that the benefits they have only work for them if they stay in network. Not necessarily true! What we see in our office most often is out of network benefits that equally match in network for preventative services, and match or cost only 5 – 10% more for more serious work. Many times the only difference comes in how the insurance companies determine their allowable charge (what they’ll pay for each procedure). When going in-network, allowable charges are based on contracted rates determined by the insurance company. When outside of the network, these charges are based on the Usual, Customary and Reasonable fee (UCR) for the geographical area you are receiving service in. If your dentist bases their charges similarly on what is common in the area, you may see very little difference in these out of network rates.

If you have a fee for service or PPO policy and the dentist you want to see is not in your network, all is not lost. Check with your dentist or with your insurance company directly for the lowdown on what your plan offers; you may have more benefits than you think!

Prevention is the best medicine

We have all heard the saying, prevention is the best medicine.  As true as this saying is with many things in life, it is also very accurate when applied to oral health. We know that brushing and flossing is good for our teeth and gums, but do we really know why or how these help? Also, are we aware that there are other things we can do to that will allow us to reap great oral health rewards? Helping to educate patients on ways to keep their winning smile is our passion here at Dr. Villalobos office.

Individualized Home Care Recommendations

Brush and floss your teeth twice a day to maintain a healthy smile. We have all heard this advice from the time we are quite young and it is good advice. However, how you brush and floss makes a difference and is really just the beginning. Choosing the right toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash are important factors and makes a big difference in helping or harming your teeth and gums. Proper technique and frequency also can be the difference between doing a good thing for your mouth or causing unintentional damage. At Dr. Villalobos office, we are firm believers in the benefit of using an oral irrigator daily as well as brushing and flossing. Our hygienist experts in gently guiding you to the right home care routine for your specific dental needs.

Genetics Do Matter

Just as some of us are born with a genetic predisposition to certain medical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, we can also be at a genetic disadvantage when it comes to the health of our teeth or gums. Decay (or cavities) and periodontal disease (or gum disease) are both caused by specific types of bacteria. Every person has a certain susceptibility to these types of bacteria which contributes to your overall risk of developing cavities or gum disease throughout your lifetime.

Good vs. Bad Bacteria

Every day, our mouths are a constant battlefield for healthy and unhealthy bacteria fighting for dominance. Our natural pH plays a role as does our diet and daily habits. Unhealthy bacteria thrive in a more acidic environment while healthy bacteria flourish in a more basic or neutral pH environment. Your natural pH level combined with what you eat and drink throughout the day help tip that balance. Most of us have heard about soda being bad for our teeth and this is true. However, sometimes we erroneously think it is only the sugar that is bad when, in actuality, the acid plays a significant role in causing the damage to our oral health. This change in understanding of the dental disease process illuminates the fact that even some otherwise healthy foods and drinks may have a harmful impact on our dental health. Our staff at Dr. Villalobos office is uniquely qualified to help you identify things you are doing that may increase the acidity in your mouth thereby increasing the potential for the unhealthy bacteria to cause problems to your oral health. We can also recommend products that can help you lower the acidity in your mouth if we determine you are in need of such products.

Let Us Help You Achieve a Healthy Smile

Give our office a call today to schedule your appointment and start a conversation about how you can prevent dental health problems before they begin.

What is a occlusal guard and do you need one?

    

Odds are great, that indeed you do need a custom occlusal guard. We seem to be replacing dental decay with broken teeth as the leading problem in dentistry. Improved education, access to healthcare, utilization of fluoride and an increased value placed on attractive, healthy teeth are all playing a role in drastically reducing the rate of dental decay, or cavities. At the same time, increased stress appears to be increasing the number of people we see with evidence of premature wear on their teeth.  When you come in for an exam, we evaluate your teeth to see how much of your tooth’s enamel is missing and if you have any evidence that your teeth are beginning to crack so we can determine your risk of breaking your teeth. Although it is not yet the number one problem we treat, it is quickly becoming one of the most common problems we see.

Enamel is the hardest substance in our entire body. It is expected that one will lose approximately one millimeter of enamel every 100 years with normal wear and tear. Clenching your teeth and/or grinding, or bruxism, is the cause of abnormal wear to your teeth. Either or both of these habits can occur when awake or asleep and can happen consciously, although, most often it is an unconscious tendency. Many times patients are unaware of these habits until we show them the destruction in their mouth and explain to them how it happens. Although we are unable to “cure” clenching or bruxism, we can create a protective guard you wear to prevent additional destruction. Our goal is to catch it early before there is significant wear or breakage. This habit has the potential to destroy teeth to the extent that very little tooth structure is visible in the mouth and chewing becomes impossible. If left untreated for long enough for this scenario to develop, we may only be able to extract the remaining roots and provide dentures. It is far preferable to seek treatment before there are so few options available.
Headaches, TMD and sore jaws
Not only does clenching or grinding destroy our teeth, it also can cause headaches, create or exacerbate temporomandibular joint disorder and can make us wake up with a very tight or tired jaw. We have extremely powerful jaws so that we are able to eat a wide variety of foods. However, if these muscles and joints are working when we are not eating, we can begin to have undesirable side effects from this unhealthy habit.
Causes of Worn Teeth:

– Parafunctional habits: bruxism (grinding), clenching, or object biting (ice, nails, pens).  These can occur for a number of reasons, including:

Stress
Medications: levodopa, fluoxetine, lithium, citalopram, etc.
Habits
– Bite interference due to:
Natural tooth position
Restorations that are “high” or unpolished porcelain rubbing against natural tooth structure.
Shifting tooth position from periodontal disease
– Missing teeth – spaces in your dentition will put more pressure than normal on the remaining teeth. This is most noticeable with your molars and other posterior teeth.
– Diet
Nuts, ice
Excessive gum chewing

– Systemic/Neurological
Sleep apnea
Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease
Down syndrome
Autism
– Developmental dental defects –enamel is thin or weak

Occlusal guards

An occlusal guard is a clear, rigid oral appliance that fits snugly on your top teeth and feels similar to an orthodontic retainer. Most often, it is worn only at night as this is usually when most clenching and bruxism happens. The process of creating an occlusal guard for you is a fairly simple process. We take an impression of your upper and lower teeth for our laboratory specialist to create the custom fitted guard specifically for you. When we receive the guard back from our lab, you have a brief appointment with Dr. Villalobos to make any necessary modifications to the device. It is important to note that attempting to address this problem with an over-the-counter mouth guard can actually create more problems than it will solve. Therefore, we do not recommend you use this type of mouth guard. When you receive your occlusal guard, there may be an adjustment period when you begin to sleep with the guard since it prevents you from unconsciously doing what your brain has developed a habit of doing. Persistence is important during this time and many patients ultimately report that they feel strange if they try to sleep without wearing it once they do make that adjustment.
An investment in your health
Although many insurance companies do not provide coverage for this type of device, some will if we find evidence of premature wear to your teeth. Even if you do not have coverage, the cost of the occlusal guard is less than half the cost of one crown and less than 1/8th the cost of one implant. We think that you’ll agree that this is money well spent in a time when we are literally breaking our teeth while we sleep.
 Proper care
If you do choose to invest in protecting your teeth in this way, please take note that our pets love to chew up these guards at an alarmingly high rate. If this happens, it will almost certainly be the most expensive chew toy you ever provided for your pet. Please keep the guards tightly shut in the case provided and have a designated storage site that your pet cannot reach. It is recommended that you brush the outside and inside of the guard with a soft toothbrush and water every time you take it out of your mouth. Please don’t soak the guard in any solutions or use toothpaste on your toothbrush during cleaning. If brushed thoroughly with water after ever use, there is no need for any additional care. If you know or suspect you have excessive wear on your teeth, please contact us so we can help you preserve your teeth.

What causes tooth pain?

Tooth pain can range from a mild, dull pain to a sharp, shooting attack. No matter how it feels, the underlying mechanism which causes the pain is the same. Tooth pain occurs when the nerve endings contained within the pulp of the tooth are stimulated by an outside source. The pain is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t as it should be, and that you need to see a dentist. Below is a rundown of the main causes of tooth pain.

Dental Cavities

Dental cavities are one of the leading causes of tooth pain. Cavities occur when food particles become trapped in the mouth. Bacteria feed upon this food and produce an acid, which damages the protective enamel on teeth.

Gum Recession

Gum recession is caused when the gum tissue which surrounds the teeth pulls back or wears away, exposing the tooth. Gum recession is most commonly caused by periodontal disease, an infection which damages the gum tissue which supports your teeth. It can also be caused by brushing your teeth too vigorously, which also damages the gums. This can allow pockets to form between the gum and the teeth, which are the perfect place for bacteria to grow. The bacteria attack the tooth which leads to tooth pain.

Recent Dental Work

If you have recently had dental work carried out on your teeth, it may have caused them to become sensitized. This normally subsides after a few weeks, and your teeth should return to their normal state as they heal.

Acid Reflux

If you suffer from acid reflux, you may be at particular risk of tooth pain. The acid from your stomach can accelerate tooth decay, leading to an increased occurrence of pain.

Abscess

An abscess is caused by an infection in the mouth, throat or jaw. Abscesses are normally the result of an infected tooth or poor dental health. They can also occur when dental work already carried out begins to fail. Under these conditions, bacteria thrive, leading to inflammation and the formation of pus, as your body tries to fight the infection.

Referred Pain

Sometimes the source of the pain will be another tooth or another area of the head, neck or jaw. For example, if you have an infected sinus, the pain may radiate into your mouth and feel like it is occurring in a tooth. When this is the case, your dentist will describe the problem as ‘referred pain’. You may be given an x-ray to confirm the true source of your discomfort.

Chip, Crack or Fracture

As you bite and chew, your teeth may become weakened. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching may also contribute to causing chips, cracks or fractures to your teeth. When your teeth suffer damage such as this, it can expose nerve endings which are trigged when exposed to hot or cold temperatures or foods.

If you experience tooth pain, you should book an appointment to see a dental health professional to have to checked out. Tooth pain rarely goes away by itself.

What to know about wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are the final teeth to arrive, erupting right at the back of the mouth anytime from your late teens to your early to mid twenties. For most people, wisdom teeth don’t cause any major problems when they arrive, aside from a little pain and discomfort. However, for others they can cause complications.

Ancient Teeth

Wisdom teeth are believed to be something left over from the early days of human evolution, when people would have eaten a primitive diet contain raw and tough foods. The modern human skull has a smaller jaw compared to its ancestors, and so sometimes people can have problems with space when wisdom teeth arrive.

Misalignment

Because of the lack of space, wisdom teeth will sometimes become misaligned, protruding at odd angles into the mouth, gums or other teeth. Poorly aligned teeth can lead to pain and damage in neighboring teeth, nerves or jaw bone.

Impacted Teeth

Wisdom teeth can also become impacted. An impacted tooth doesn’t fully break through the gum into the mouth. This encourages the growth of bacteria around the wisdom tooth, which can lead to infection, swelling, and pain. Because it can be hard to reach an impacted tooth with a toothbrush, they are also more likely to be prone to gum disease and tooth decay.

Wisdom Teeth Removal

If you are having problems with your wisdom teeth, you should see a dental health professional. Your dentist will assess you and may also conduct an x-ray to look for signs of impacted teeth. The most common form of treatment is the removal of the wisdom teeth. Before the teeth are removed, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the area, and may offer an oral sedative if you are feeling anxious.

Recovery from Wisdom Teeth Extraction

After you have had your wisdom teeth extracted you will experience a recovery period as your body reacts and heals. You may experience:

  • Bleeding. For a few hours after the extraction, you may experience light bleeding in your mouth. This can be easily controlled using clean gauze.
  • Facial Swelling. Some swelling around the area where the tooth was extracted is normal. To combat swelling, wrap a piece of ice in a towel, and apply it to the swollen area for 10 minutes. Repeat this a couple of times an hour as needed.

Food and Drink

You should avoid food until the numbness from the pain relief has worn off. You should then only eat soft foods for the next few days, to avoid damaging your gum as it heals. Avoid hot drinks as these can cause complications. You should continue to gently brush your teeth, avoiding the extraction area for the first 24 hours. It may take a few weeks for your mouth to fully heal, but the outlook is generally good once this procedure has been performed.

If you are suffering from pain or discomfort due to your wisdom teeth, you should book an appointment with a dental health professional.

Are X-Rays At Your Dentist Safe?

digital dental xrays

One of the most powerful tools your dentist has to help diagnose and treat dental health issues is the use of x-rays. Dental x-rays let your dentist see what’s going on, not only on the surface of your teeth but inside them, as well as inside the gum and jawbone areas to help determine a tooth’s growth and progression as well as overall health.

Traditional dental x-rays were performed by your dentist or dental technician using a special film that reacted to the x-rays passing through your teeth and gums; today’s digital radiography uses a sensor to capture images in much the same way, but without the wait for the film to be developed. In addition, modern digital radiography procedures use considerably less radiation — as little as 10% of the amount used to create x-ray images with traditional film procedures.

Obviously less radiation is better than more — although for most patients who were getting x-rays at most twice a year, there was never in any danger from developing radiation-related problems even with the film-based x-rays. But for patients who need more imagery because of particular conditions or procedures they are undergoing, having 1/10th the amount of radiation involved is of course a good thing.

In addition, today’s digital radiography images are of considerably higher resolution; they can be easily manipulated by your technician or dentist on their computer, as well, allowing them to change lighting and contrast in ways that help them diagnose small problems well in advance of them becoming big ones — the proverbial “stitch in time” that can keep dental issues from becoming worse. X-rays are important to your dental health, and today’s modern digital imagery gives your dentist a better tool than ever before to help keep your teeth at their best.