How safe are dental X-rays?
Exposure to all
sources of radiation
-- including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home,
and dental X-rays -- can damage the body's tissues and cells and lead
to the development of cancer
Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the
taking of X-rays is extremely small.
dentistry over the years have lead to the low radiation levels
emitted by dental X-rays. Some of the improvements are new digital
X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being
X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time
compared with older film speeds to get the same results, and the use
of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth
(which prevents the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays
and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of lead-lined,
full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this
is almost nonexistent with the modern dental X-ray machines.) In
addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for
accuracy and safety every two years, with some states requiring more
What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?
Sealants are a
thin, plastic coating that is painted on the chewing surfaces of
-- usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) -- to prevent
decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the
depressions and groves of the teeth, forming a protective shield over
the enamel of each tooth
children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars
as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can
protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14.
However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also
benefit from sealants.
protect the teeth from decay for many years, but they need to be
checked for chipping or wear at regular dental check-ups.
How do whitening toothpastes work and how effective are they?
help remove surface stains through the action of mild abrasives. Some
whitening toothpastes contain gentle polishing or chemical agents
that provide additional stain removal. Whitening toothpastes can help
remove surface stains only and do not contain bleach;
over-the-counter and professional whitening products contain hydrogen
(a bleaching substance) that helps remove
stains on the tooth surface as well as stains deep in the tooth. None
of the home use whitening toothpastes can come even close to
producing the bleaching effect you get from your dentist's office
through chair-side bleaching or power bleaching. Whitening
toothpastes can lighten your tooth's color by about one shade. In
contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist's
office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.
I'm interested in changing the shape of my teeth. What options are available?
different options are available to change the shape of teeth, make
teeth look longer, close spaces between teeth or repair chipped or
cracked teeth. Among the options are bonding, crowns, veneers
I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist. What should I do?
If you fear
going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9% and 15% of
Americans state they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety
or fear. The first thing you should do is talk with your dentist. The
key to coping with dental anxiety
is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows
what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you
to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more
comfortable. The good news is that today there are a number of
strategies that can be used to help reduce fear, anxiety, and pain.
Why should I floss, isn't brushing enough?
You should floss
to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of
these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your
teeth. This bacteria live in plaque which can be removed by
flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in
your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria your toothbrush can't
get to. That's the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your
teeth. Brushing without flossing is like washing only half your face.
The other half remains dirty.
If you do not
floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually it
hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only your
dentist can remove tartar.
Ask the staff at
Smiles of Madison Dentistry to show you the proper way to floss. You
will both notice the difference at your next cleaning appointment.
How can I prevent cavities?
certainly minimize the number of cavities you get. Always spend two
to three minutes brushing your teeth. It takes that long to get rid
of the bacteria which destroy tooth enamel. Do not brush too hard. It
takes very little pressure to remove bacteria and plaque. Floss at
least once a day. It is the only way to get bacteria from between
Watch the sugar
you eat. There is sugar in candy, fruits, crackers and chips. These
are the foods that the bacteria in your mouth like best. Be mindful
of foods like raisins and peanut butter that stick to your teeth.
They can provide a constant supply for the bacteria eating into your
teeth. Try to minimize the times during the day when sweet items are
eaten and clean your teeth afterwards.
If you cannot
brush after a meal, rinse your mouth with water—which can help to
remove food from your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal can
also help. Chewing stimulates the flow of saliva which acts as a
natural plaque-fighting substance.
Do not forget
your regular dental visits. Good dental habits will go a long way
toward a no-cavity visit.
Why does the dentist take X-rays?
Many diseases of
the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when your dentist
examines your mouth. An X-ray examination may reveal:
- small areas
of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
in the bone
- some types
treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and
often unnecessary discomfort. Dental radiographs can detect damage to
oral structures not visible during a regular exam. If you have a
hidden tumor, radiographs may even help save your life. Your dentist
will evaluate your need for radiographs based on the conditions
present in your mouth. The schedule for radiographs can vary with
age, risk for disease or for evaluation of growth and development.
There are many benefits to having dental radiographs taken. Any
additional questions or concerns should be discussed with your
What is fluoride and why is it important to dental health?
Fluoride is a
mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and in water. Some
natural sources of fluoride are brewed tea, canned fish, cooked kale
and spinach, apples, and skim milk. Some city water contains
fluoride, so by drinking tap water you will acquire fluoride. If your
drinking water does not have fluoride, supplements are available.
The lack of
exposure to fluoride places individuals of any age at risk for dental
decay. Fluoride is important to dental health because it helps
prevent tooth decay by making the enamel outer portion of the tooth
more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria in the mouth.
shown that children who consumed fluoridated water from birth had
less dental decay. Fluoride can reverse early decay and help prevent
osteoporosis, a disease that causes degenerative bone loss.
Talk to your
dentist or dental hygienist about whether you're getting the daily
amount of fluoride you need.
What are the dangers of oral piercing?
Dental Association recognizes that piercing is a widely accepted form
of self-expression, and that includes piercings in the mouth.
However, the potential problems are numerous. Some symptoms after a
piercing include pain, swelling, infection, drooling, taste loss,
scarring, chipped teeth, tooth loss, and an increased flow of saliva,
none of which are particularly pleasant. Tongue piercing can also
cause excessive bleeding.
require some sort of manipulation – putting your or somebody else's
hands in your mouth. Difficulty talking and damage to your teeth are
distinct possibilities. So if you're thinking of some sort of
piercing in or around your mouth, talk to your dentist first.
If you already
have piercings and are having problems, see your dentist right away.
What is periodontal disease?
disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone
structure, which is left untreated, can cause permanent jaw bone
destruction and possible tooth loss. Untreated periodontal disease
has been linked to increased risk for conditions such as heart
disease, stroke, low birth weight babies and pre-term delivery,
respiratory disease, and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of
periodontal disease exhibits inflamed gums pulling away from your
bone and teeth. Other signs of periodontal disease include:
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Loose teeth or teeth that have moved
- Sensitive teeth
- Pus coming from around the teeth
- Pain on chewing
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums
early periodontal disease can be performed in-office. However,
advanced stages may require surgery. Periodontal disease can be
prevented and treated successfully by seeing your dentist and dental
hygienist regularly and following recommended care plans.
What can I do about sensitive teeth?
toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate
are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of
use you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods
such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can
increase tooth sensitivity, and work against any sensitivity
toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using a
desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special
compounds that can be applied in office to the roots of your tooth to
reduce—if not eliminate—the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing
home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth
Why should I use a mouthguard?
A mouthguard can
prevent injuries to your face and teeth. Most people benefit from
wearing a mouthguard when playing any sport. You should wear one
whether you are playing professionally or just on weekends. Do what
you can to preserve your smile and your health. The best mouthguards
are custom-fitted by your dentist. This is especially important if
you wear braces or fixed bridgework.
ready-made mouthguards can be purchased at most sporting goods
stores. They are relatively inexpensive but they are also less
effective. In either case, rinse your mouthguard with water or
mouthwash after each use. With proper care, it should last for