Many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when your dentist examines your mouth so an X-ray examination can reveal important additional information:
For example, X-rays can help show:
– Small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing fillings
– Infections in the bone
– Gum disease
– Abscesses or cysts
– Developmental abnormalities
– Some types of tumors
The way they work is that more X-rays are absorbed by the denser parts (such as teeth and bone) than by soft tissues (such as cheeks and gums). This creates an image called a radiograph.
Tooth decay, infections and signs of gum disease appear darker because of more X-ray penetration. The interpretation of these radiographs allows the dentist to safely and accurately detect hidden abnormalities.
The frequency of X-rays (radiographs) will depend on your specific health needs.
Your dentist will review your history, examine your mouth and decide whether you need radiographs and what type.
When you are a new patient, the dentist may recommend radiographs to establish how the hidden areas of your mouth currently look to help identify changes that occur later.
X-rays can help identify and treat dental problems at an early stage and so can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort.
You’ll give yourself the best chance of good oral health if you build a strong relationship with your dentist.
That can sometimes mean asking the right questions and helping them to assist you in the best way possible.
So you want to make sure you have a dentist who will first of all explain techniques that you should use to help prevent dental health problems. They should be willing to show you step-by-step what you need to do.
You should also choose a dentist who is willing to take time to answer your questions, especially when they are recommending a course of treatment.
If you don’t understand any part of what your dentist recommends, don’t be afraid to ask for more information.
You may want to ask if there are other options to the solution they recommend. For example:
– How do the options differ in cost?
– Which solution will last the longest?
– Do all the options solve the problem?
Ask the dentist which treatments are absolutely necessary, which are elective and Which are cosmetic.
Ask which procedures are urgently needed, and which ones are less urgent. Your dentist will help you prioritize between problems which need immediate attention and those that are less urgent.
Often, treatment can be planned over a period of time but make sure you understand any consequences of delaying treatment.
It’s naturally also important to make sure that you are given full information about fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled.
Some people get a bit nervous about the idea of going to the dentist.
As a result of the major progress that has been made in diagnosis and treatment, the process gets more comfortable all the time. So you may be worrying unnecessarily.
But, if you’re in any way tense or anxious, tell your dentist and the dental staff.
They will understand and will be able to adapt the treatment to your needs.
It can also help if you choose a time for your dental visit when you’re less likely to be rushed or under pressure. Dashing out from a busy day at work may make you feel more stressed.
For many people, that means making an early-morning or a Saturday appointment helps a great deal.
There are also other steps than can help. If the sound of the drill bothers you, take a portable audio player and headset so you can listen to your favorite music.
You can also help to relax by simply visualizing yourself somewhere you feel relaxed.
Sometimes these simple steps can help you feel a lot better. So why not give it a try on your next visit?
Correcting problems with crowded and crooked teeth not only gives you a better smile, it also leads to a healthier mouth.
Malocclusion, also known as bad bite, involves teeth that are crowded or crooked.
Sometimes, the upper and lower jaws may not meet properly and, although the teeth may appear straight, the individual may have an uneven bite.
Problems such as protruding, crowded or irregularly spaced teeth may be inherited. But thumb-sucking, losing teeth prematurely and accidents also can lead to these conditions.
As well as spoiling your smile, crooked and crowded teeth make cleaning the mouth difficult. This can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and possibly tooth loss.
A bad bite can also interfere with chewing and speaking, cause abnormal wear to tooth enamel and lead to problems with the jaws.
Orthodontic treatment can help correcting these problems giving you a better smile but, more importantly, creating a healthier mouth.
Your dentist will advise you on how orthodontic treatment could help you.
Orthodontic appliances such as braces can be used to help straighten out crooked and crowded teeth.
This is not just about looking better; it also helps improve your dental health.
How they look may determine how you feel about wearing them but, these days, braces can be as inconspicuous as you want.
Brackets the part of the braces that attaches to each tooth can sometimes be attached to the back of the tooth, making them less noticeable.
The brackets can be made in a wide range of different materials such as metal, ceramic or plastic.
They can also be designed to look appealing. For example, they may be clear or tooth-colored. There can also be shaped in a variety of ways like hearts and footballs or created in favorite colors.
You could even go for gold-plated braces or glow-in-the-dark retainers!
Sensitive teeth is a common problem that causes many people to feel discomfort with hot or cold foods and drinks.
It can also make it uncomfortable to brush or floss the teeth and therefore can lead to further oral problems.
However, sensitive teeth can be treated.
If you suffer from this, your dentist may suggest that you try a desensitizing toothpaste, which contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve.
For desensitizing toothpaste to work, you normally have to make several applications.
If the desensitizing toothpaste does not help, your dentist may suggest further solutions.
For example, fluoride gel – which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations – may be applied to the sensitive areas of the teeth.
If the sensitivity is caused by receding gums, your dentist may use bonding agents that “seal” the sensitive teeth.
The sealer is usually made of a plastic material.
If there is severe hypersensitivity which cannot be treated by other means, there is the option of endodontic (root canal) treatment.
Sensitive teeth is a problem that can stop you enjoying your food but is one that can often be solved.
Choosing the right dentist for your needs is an important part of giving yourself the best oral health possible.
Sometimes you may find that things are not working out for the best and it’s important to take steps to resolve any problems rather than just put off your dental care.
First, talk to your dentist about any concerns. They will probably be able to accomodate your needs if you tell them what you are looking for.
In some situations, you may feel that you want to look around at alternative options – maybe there are other dentists who meet your needs better, taking into account factors such as location, office hours, fees and emergency arrangements.
If you are comparing fees, ask for estimates on full-mouth x-rays and a preventive dental visit that includes an oral exam and tooth cleaning.
If you have any doubts about treatment your dentist has recommended, it may be a good idea to set your mind at rest by getting a second opinion from another dentist.
However, even in the best dentist-patient relationship, problems can sometimes occur. If your dentist is not able to resolve your concerns, you can contact your state or local dental association.
They have established systems of peer review that provide an impartial and easy way to resolving misunderstandings regarding the appropriateness or quality of care.
If you are not completely staisfied with the dental treatment you are getting, it’s important ot take steps to put it right – whether you sort it out with your own dentist or find another one.
The Invisalign system is a series of clear, thin, mouthguards that fit over the teeth and can gradually straighten them.
These have been called invisible braces as they can be an effective alternative to metal braces in some circumstances.
The big advantage of Invisalign is much improved appearance and comfort.
Invisalign mouthguards can be removed during eating and when brushing and flossing. As traditional braces may trap food and plaque, this is another major benefit of Invisalign.
While the system has advantages, it also has some drawbacks.
For example, it is more expensive – costing 25-50 percent more than metal braces.
Also the fact that you remove the mouthguards more often means that you may forget to wear them and it could take longer for you to achieve the desired results.
Invisalign is better suited to some people than others – for example, it may be particularly suitable for adults who have slight to moderate spacing or crowding of their teeth.
Your dentist will be able to tell you if you might be a suitable candiate for Invisalign.
You will get more detailed advice from an orthodontist who has been certified in the Invisalign system.
Your dentist will do everything possible to make your visit as relaxed and comfortable as possible.
Depending on the treatment you are receiving, there are several medications available to help.
Some drugs control pain, some help you relax and others put you into a deep sleep during dental treatment.
The best approach will depend on the type of procedure being undertaken, your overall health – including any history of allergies – and the degree of anxiety you feel.
Some of the options your dentist might discuss include:
Analgesics: These are the most commonly used drugs for relief of toothache or pain following dental treatment. They includes aspirin, acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen. There is a separate category of narcotic analgesics – such as those containing codeine – which are used for more severe pain.
Local anesthesia: Topical anesthetics are applied to mouth tissues with a swab to prevent pain on the surface level. They may also be used to soothe mouth sores. Injectable local anesthetics prevent pain in a specific area of your mouth during treatment by blocking the nerves that sense or transmit pain and numbing mouth tissues.
In other cases, your dentist many recommend sedation or general anesthesia.
Your dentist will discuss the best approach to suit your needs.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. If you let it build up on your teeth, it can lead to several problems.
The best way to remove plaque from the tooth surfaces is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day.
You should brush your teeth twice a day, with a soft-bristled brush. The brush should fit your mouth comfortably, allowing you to reach all areas easily.
When you use toothpaste that contains fluoride, this helps protect your teeth.
You can help even more by cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners. This removes plaque from between the teeth in areas the toothbrush can’t reach.
By taking a few steps each day to look after your teeth – and visiting your dentist regularly, you’ll be able to enjoy healthy teeth and a great smile all your life.