Hubbard Dental Care

The Transparent Truth on Dental Radiographs

Why does the dentist always need to take an x-ray before extracting a tooth, or diagnosing decay? There are several reasons that a dentist will take a radiograph, or x-ray, whether it is during a check-up or an emergency exam.
At our office we take checkup x-rays, or bitewings, every 6 months to 1 year on children under 18. This is mainly due to the fact that children are at a higher risk for cavities. They tend to have a higher intake of sugary foods and are not as thorough when brushing and flossing. Bitewings are taken on adults every 18 months to 2 years, unless they are at a higher risk for decay. A bitewing will show decay that lies between the teeth that cannot be detected in a clinical exam.

Rocole Lena (7-29-2015 4h04 PM)
During a limited exam, or emergency exam, we will take a periapical film, otherwise known as a PA. This is an x-ray that will show Dr. Hubbard the crown and root of the tooth that is causing you the pain. The PA will allow us to analyze the level of the bone surrounding the tooth, detect cavities under existing fillings, and see any infection that may be at the tip, or apex, of the tooth.

Wheeler Donald (11-14-2013 8h06 AM)

Radiation is a large concern we hear from our patients. At our office we utilize digital imaging technology. With digital imaging, exposure time is about 50 percent less when compared to traditional radiographs. Radiation is measured in millirems, otherwise known as mrem. A dental radiograph exposes you to 0.1mrem, to put that into perspective, the average person is exposed to 228mrem from breathing normally for 1 year and 40 mrem per year from the food we eat and water we drink in just a year’s time. One set of checkup x-rays will expose you to less radiation than spending 30 mins outdoors in the sunshine.

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If you ever have any questions about our policy regarding x-rays feel free to contact our office, or speak with one of our highly trained employees at your next appointment.

 

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“My teeth don’t hurt, so how can I have a cavity?”

This is one of the questions we are asked on a daily basis.

First, we have to understand the anatomy of our teeth. A tooth is composed of layers, like an onion. The outer layer is a tough, white layer called the enamel. This is what you see when you look in your mouth. Under the enamel lies the dentin, this is a hard but porous tissue. It is the main body of your tooth. It is slightly softer than the enamel and yellowish in color. Finally, at the center, we have the pulp of the tooth. This houses the blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue.

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Second, we need to understand where a cavity comes from. A cavity forms when acids in the mouth break down the enamel. How do we get acid in our mouth, you ask? Bacteria live on your teeth inside a film called plaque. When you eat foods or drink liquids with sugar or starch, the bacteria feed off of them and turn the sugars in to acids. When your teeth are under attack from acids, the risk of cavities go way up.

A cavity starts out as a tiny spot on the enamel of your tooth, these can be spotted by the trained eye of your dentist or x-rays that have been taken. Most of the time your dentist will advise you that they can watch the spot and with regular brushing, flossing, checkups, and limiting sugar you may never need a filling on these small cavities. If not caught quick enough, or there is a high intake of sugar, a cavity will grow. When the decay (cavity) grows larger, it moves into the dentin. Unfortunately, once a cavity reaches this point, the only way to be cavity free again, is with a filling.

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Our teeth are the only body part that doesn’t have the ability to heal itself. When the cavity is in this stage, normally, there is no pain or sensitivity felt. If you are having a toothache, the decay has reached the final layer, or the pulp of the tooth where the nerves are located. At this point, the options to restore the tooth are a root canal to save the tooth, or an extraction, to take the tooth out.

The American Dental Association recommends seeing your dentist every 6 months, to have x-rays and a dental exam to check for the start of cavities, whether between your teeth or on the chewing surface. Call to make your appointment today.

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