Archive for November 2011

The Ever Important Dental X-Ray

November 17, 2011 | Posted Education

If you have visited your dentist regularly, you will have had an x-ray. It has been an essential element to complete dental treatment for years.

The x-ray has been around so long, we might take its technology for granted. Yet it continues to be an amazingly useful diagnostic tool for dentists. It operates by sending out waves of energy that can pass through solid objects. The more dense the object, the more the rays are absorbed.

Teeth are quite dense compared to your cheeks and gums. As a result, your teeth will absorb more x-ray energy, which is why they show up lighter in colour on the x-ray film. Existing fillings are denser than teeth and appear lighter on the film. However, since cavities are areas of the teeth which have decayed, they appear much darker than the rest of the tooth.

This simple contrast in the darkness of the x-ray image enables your dentist to see things that cannot be observed with the naked eye. For instance, your dentist can use x-rays to spot early signs of decay between teeth, under the gum line or beneath an existing filling. An x-ray can also reveal bone loss associated with periodontal disease, locate signs of infection or the fact that a nerve beneath the tooth has died, which can be a precursor to root canal.

The value of the x-ray is its ability to help your dentist find these potential problems as early as possible. When found early, treatment may be much easier and less intrusive.

The question that remains is how often you should have an x-ray. Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer to this question. Your dentist will want you to have x-rays as often as your dental health requires. Some people may only require x-rays every year or two. Other patients may need them more frequently, perhaps as often as every six months.

For instance, people with periodontal disease, those with a number of fillings, or who suffer from dry mouth or who smoke may benefit from having x-rays every six months. More frequent x-rays bring into question the health concerns associated with x-ray radiation.

Patients should feel confident that dental x-rays subject you to very small levels of radiation. Furthermore, your dentist will take all of the necessary precautions to ensure your exposure is kept to a minimum.

If you continue to have any concerns about x-rays, you should speak to your dentist about it. You need to be comfortable with the treatment you receive. This means balancing any concerns about x-ray radiation with the benefits of early detection of dental problems. Because finding dental problems early is a healthy habit… and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Wayne Perron

Dental Surgeon

As dentists, we are strong believers in YOUR power to control so many aspects of your oral health, as well as your life! Taking positive steps with diet, exercise, dealing with stress as well as regularly brushing and flossing your teeth can all improve your oral health.

Unfortunately, even the strongest, healthiest teeth may fracture as a result of an unforeseen accident. This may require that you seek some form of dental treatment. Of course, the nature of the required treatment may vary depending upon the manner of the fracture.

For instance, cracks in the teeth can be treated with different options, depending upon the severity of the crack. Very minor surface cracking of the enamel may be treated with a simple polishing of the affected tooth.

However, if you notice the appearance of a crack on your teeth, you should not assume it is minor in nature. Have your dentist take a look. The crack may be indicative of a more severe fracture that goes through the entire tooth.

You may not be experiencing any pain yet, but such a crack can leave your root exposed. It could require a filling, a crown or possibly a root canal if the root or pulp of the tooth has been damaged.

Many people active in sports may chip a tooth. Again, the severity and location of the chip can determine the ideal treatment. A very minor chip may require little more than filing away any sharp edges created.  If the shape is not cosmetically appealing, veneers may prove an attractive option to get that tooth to, once again, look…attractive!

However, larger chips may leave a root exposed and require more intrusive intervention. Again, a crown could be the option best suited to this situation.

If you experience a serious break, you will know it. Such a break will usually be the result of a strong trauma, and it will usually be accompanied with very noticeable pain, bleeding and often swelling. You will have to see your dentist immediately.

In some instances, the fracture may be so severe that your dentist might suggest implants as the best alternative. Implants are wonderful options as they look and perform just like a natural tooth. Patients who have had them have been thrilled with the results!

For all the hard work you do to take care of your teeth, we hope you never see your efforts undone by an accident that leaves you with a fractured tooth. However, if this should be the case, visit your dentist as soon as possible. Even if you think it is a minor break, x-rays may reveal a potentially more serious problem than you might think.

Let your dentist determine how severe the damage is and provide you with treatment options. Because treating fractures as early as possible is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr.  Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon

It is easy to see that some people might look at the title of this article and feel they are attending a meeting of Dental Phobics Anonymous! That is certainly not the intent here. You will not be asked to stand up, say your name and admit you do not visit your dentist!

However, there is a good chance that many of you do not visit your dentist on a regular basis. Some studies have indicated that, in North America, as little as 45% of the population visits their dentist at least once per year. On a more local level, only 45% of local Ottawa seniors reported visiting the dentist at least once per year.

As dentists, we consider that a rather alarming statistic. First of all, due to the potential for your oral health to change rapidly, we recommend that you visit your dentist at least twice per year. For those individuals experiencing specific dental issues, such as periodontitis, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits.

We understand that there are a number of factors that interfere with your ability to make it to the dentist. Work days seem so much longer than ever before as technology seems to have us permanently linked to the office. Single parents or two income families often struggle to balance work life with getting their kids to whatever activity they have that night.

Even if you want to go to the dentist, life can be so busy it just seems to get in the way!

It is certainly not our place to lecture anybody about the importance of good oral health. That being said, we would be remiss if we did not, at the very least, remind you just how important regular dental visits are!

Your mouth is truly a window into your overall health. People in poor oral health tend to be more likely to experience poor overall health as well! The bacteria that builds on the teeth can penetrate into your bloodstream and cause infections to spread, or result in cardiovascular diseases!

Sometimes, an underlying health condition that may not seem to be linked to oral health can be spotted by your dentist. For example, some dentists have spotted signs of undiagnosed diabetes in patients. Imagine how their health could have been further compromised without that dental visit!

Then, of course, there is the potential life saving diagnosis your dentist may provide through early detection of oral cancer! Visiting even once per year is not sufficient to increase the likelihood of early detection. You need to get to the dentist at least every six months to provide your dentist with the best chance to catch oral cancer as early as possible.

We understand that this may seem like a large investment in time. But it is your health we are talking about. And if one of your children has to miss one hockey practice because you have a dentist appointment, we think that beats the option of discovering oral cancer when it is too late!

So invest the time to see your dentist. Because regular dental visits are a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon