Blog of Cawthra Dental
Dental x-rays are pictures that are taken of our teeth that show the underlying structures beneath the soft tissues, and in areas, we can’t visually see. X-rays are black and white images that show us the density of oral structures. On an x-ray, the lighter a structure is, the denser it is (called opaque), the darker a structure is, the less dense it is (called radiolucent.) Therefore enamel of teeth shows up very light, and gum tissue shows up very dark, almost not noticeable on an x-ray.
Why Are X-Rays Taken?
- Checking for cavities on biting surfaces, in-between the teeth and underneath the gums
- Checking for infections at the root (apex) of any of the teeth
- Monitoring the health and levels of the bone and periodontal ligament support
- Checking the angulation of tooth roots
- Checking for any abnormalities such as cysts
- Monitoring the health of past restorative work
- Checking wisdom teeth impaction
- Monitoring the health of the jaw joint
- Used for patients with dental braces (before and after)
- In kids, checking the eruption of baby teeth
- In kids, checking for extra or missing adult teeth under the gums
When Are X-rays Recommended?
X-rays are recommended based on an individual’s need. If there is an issue or concern, an x-ray will be needed to get a full picture of what is going on. Cavity check-up x-rays are recommended every 1-3 years based on cavity risk. Someone who has never had a cavity will be recommended less frequently, and someone who is cavity prone will be recommended more often.
X-rays are only taken when needed/ recommended. Most dental offices offer digital x-rays, which significantly reduce the radiation exposure. Lead aprons are used to cover the vital structures in the neck and torso. Regular check-up x-rays (a series of 4 x-rays) are around the same amount of radiation as the average background radiation in 1 day or the radiation from a 1-hour flight (very minimal!)
The difference between a complete oral exam and a regular check-up exam is the detail of the diagnosis during the exam. During a complete oral exam, time will be taken to review and check every facet covering overall medical health, gum and teeth health. A comprehensive oral exam is recommended every 3-5 years or at the first visit to a new dental office. It gives a complete break down of the health of your teeth, gums and mouth. Comprehensive oral exams may be recommended more frequently if there are concerns.
What to Expect During a Complete Oral Exam
- Complete or updated medical history. Often your overall health affects your oral health and visa versa.
- Addressing your chief concerns regarding any cosmetic or functional problems
- Extraoral exam checking the tissues of your face, lips and neck
- Checking the health of your lymph nodes and looking for any lumps or bumps in the neck
- Checking your TMJ which is the jaw joint for any pain, clicking or deviation
- Intra Oral exam to check the tissues of your cheeks, tongue, the roof of your mouth, floor of your mouth and throat
- Oral cancer screening, checking for any abnormalities
- Checking for any signs of clenching or grinding
- Completing or updating the odontogram and recording any missing teeth, current fillings, dental crowns, implants, bridges, etc.
- Checking for any cavities, chips, wear, fractures, infections, etc.
- Taking any x-rays that are recommended to check the health of your teeth and bone
- Pictures may be taken of your teeth and mouth to assess for changes over time
- Completing a periodontal exam which is an exam of the health of the gums and the best indicator of gum disease
- Reviewing brushing and flossing habits
- Creating a customized treatment plan based on your needs
- Making any necessary referrals such as to an oral surgeon, orthodontist or periodontist
Circular Brushing Method
Angle your toothbrush toward your teeth and gums and use a circular motion for 2-3 teeth at once. This is the easiest brushing technique and is usually recommended for children.
Bass Brushing Technique
Hold the bristles of your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward your teeth, allowing the bristles to slip slightly underneath your gums and use a vibrating back and forth stroke, accessing 2-3 teeth at a time. Make sure to spend an adequate amount of time in each spot before moving on to the next.
Modified Bass Brushing Technique
Using the same technique as bass, but using a rolling motion away from the gums after each set of teeth (a rolling stroke upward for the bottom teeth and downward for the upper teeth).
Rolling Stroke Brushing Method
In this method, you will use a rolling technique with your toothbrush away from the gums. Angle the bristles toward the gum line and roll the toothbrush away from the gums.
Electric Toothbrush Technique
To use an electric toothbrush, make sure to let the toothbrush do the work for you. Electric toothbrushes use their unique type of toothbrush technique (usually an oscillating or sweeping motion), so you simply have to access the teeth and gum line and slowly bring the toothbrush across, accessing every tooth.
“C” Flossing Method
This is the best technique to use with manual dental floss. It involves accessing the space between teeth with the floss and then hugging the floss slightly around each tooth to remove as much plaque as possible. After guiding the floss through the space between teeth, first, hug the front tooth, go over the gums but not out of the contact, and hug the floss around the back tooth, then move on to the next area.
With floss wands, you are unable to use c-method flossing, so make sure to access the contact by guiding the floss through, and make sure to access underneath the gum line with the floss.
A water flosser uses a jet of water to flush out bacteria. It may take some practice to get into the groove. Find the right angle to spray the jet of water between each tooth.
Retainers are used to hold teeth in a certain place, often after orthodontic work is completed. After orthodontics, if no retainer is used, the teeth may shift and revert to the position they started in. Your dentist or orthodontist will recommend either a removable or a fixed retainer to keep your smile looking aligned.
With this type of retainer, you can put in and take out when needed. It is recommended to wear your retainer as much as possible. The exception being when eating and brushing or flossing. Sometimes they are only recommended for night-time use. Make sure you discuss with your dentist or orthodontist about the recommended usage. Removable retainers will either be a clear tray or have a wire front depending on what the use.
Advantages of Removable Retainers
The advantage of a removable retainer is that you can take it out and put it back in. This means that it is much easier to brush and floss your teeth, and you can take it out of your mouth when needed.
Cons of Removable Retainers
For the retainer to work, you have to wear it. If a patient isn’t compliant with wearing their retainer for the recommended amount of time, their teeth may be more susceptible to shifting with time. If you don’t wear your retainer consistently, sometimes it can feel tight or sore when putting it back in.
A fixed retainer is a wire that is glued to the back of your front teeth (either bottom, top or both) to hold your teeth in place and prevent shifting. Fixed retainers stay in place without having to be taken out and put back in.
Advantages of Fixed Retainers
The benefit of a fixed retainer is permanent retention. Because the fixed retainer can stay in for eating, brushing and flossing, it is continually holding the teeth in the correct position.
Cons of Fixed Retainers
Because the fixed retainer cannot be removed, it cannot be taken out for brushing and flossing. The wire causes difficulties with cleaning as there are more areas where plaque and bacteria can build up. There is more work involved in keeping your teeth clean when you have fixed retainers. Floss threaders, super-floss and even a water flosser, are important tools to use to help you clean your teeth clean.
We all know that sugar intake affects our teeth and can lead to tooth decay, but did you know that the PH level can also change the risk to teeth? The PH level is how acidic or basic something is that we are eating or drinking. Sparkling water is thought to be more acidic than flat water because of the added carbonation.
Extracted teeth that were donated were used for the study, which tested the effect of sparkling water vs. flat water. Teeth were submerged for some time in both types of water, and the result? Sparking water appeared to have no adverse effect on the teeth, much like flat water.
It appears that sipping on sparkling water throughout the day will not lead to cavities or enamel erosion. But be aware, any sparking water with additives like citrus may have a more damaging effect on the teeth as the acidity level will be higher. Also, the best way to have your sparkling water would be in a machine where you can make it at home, because the use of tap water will incorporate fluoride into the sparkling water, giving you that added anti-cavity protection.
What Not to Drink
Any drinks containing sugar or high acidity levels are not going to be good for your teeth. This means soda, fruit juices with added sugar and even natural juice with natural sugar all have a cavity-causing effect on the teeth.
Frequency Vs. Quantity
Think about it this way; the frequency in which you consume sugary or acidic drinks is the most crucial factor in cavity risk. If you have a small glass of orange juice, but you sip it slowly over the course of a few hours, the exposure to sugars will actually be greater than gulping back a sugary soda all at once (although not good for your health!). The exposure time is an important factor in cavity risk.
Sensitive teeth can be a daily nuisance, and sometimes it’s not clear what is causing the sensitivity. It is essential to find the root cause of the sensitivity and eliminate it. Thankfully, there are several options for reducing symptoms of sensitive teeth.
Sensitivity toothpaste helps to reduce the symptoms of sensitivity by applying a thin protective layer on the teeth. This protective layer helps block microscopic tubules that lead from the outer part to the inner part of the teeth. Sensitivity toothpaste can provide instantaneous and long-lasting sensitivity relief.
A desensitizer acts in a similar way to sensitivity toothpaste by blocking microscopic tubules to prevent sensitivity. When you consume anything that may cause sensitivity, the sensation cannot enter the underlying tooth structure to cause sensitivity. Desensitizer has to be applied in office by a dental professional and usually lasts several months.
Reducing Sweets/Acids in Your Diet
A great way to prevent sensitivity is to consume fewer sweets and acids in your diet. These types of foods can lead to cavities and erosion on your teeth, creating sensitivity.
Use a Soft/ Electric Toothbrush
Sensitivity can be caused by aggressive brushing, or by use of a toothbrush that is too hard on your teeth and gums. Aggressive brushing and hard toothbrushes can lead to recession of the gums and abrasion of the teeth. Try using an electric toothbrush with a pressure indicator or an extra soft or soft toothbrush.
Dental fillings can be used to fill in areas of recession and wear to prevent sensitivity. If sensitivity is caused by gum recession, a thin layer of filling material can be placed to protect from external stimuli. Sensitivity due to wear can be treated with dental filling material.
Invisalign is a form of orthodontic treatment that involves a series of clear plastic aligners that slowly straighten your teeth and improves your bite. Invisalign works by using aligner trays to move your teeth slowly and effectively. The aligner trays are secured to teeth through the use of attachments that are bonded to the teeth. Attachments are small pieces of plastic resin that get bonded on the front surface of several of your teeth. But don’t worry; the attachments are tooth coloured and difficult to see. The length of treatment and the cost of the Invisalign will depend significantly on the work to be done. Your specific treatment plan will be discussed with you before treatment. As well, you will be able to ask any questions you have.
How is Invisalign Made?
Before you start your treatment, you will see your dentist or orthodontist to have impressions taken of your teeth. These impressions will be sent to the Invisalign lab, which will then create a detailed, custom, digital treatment plan and a series of Invisalign aligner trays. The number of trays in your treatment plan is based on how much work and movement is needed. You will see your Invisalign trained dentist or orthodontist every 4-6 weeks to assess results and to get more trays. You will be instructed on how frequently to change your trays. Usually, it is every 1-2 weeks.
Important Invisalign Facts
- It is essential to maintain excellent oral hygiene during your Invisalign treatment. Make sure to brush at least twice and day and floss at least once a day. The most beneficial practice is to always brush after eating and before putting your trays back in.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to prevent cavities during your Invisalign treatment.
- Wear your trays at least 20-22 hours a day, try only to take them out when eating, drinking and cleaning your teeth.
- Clean your Invisalign trays with a separate toothbrush and warm water. Never use hot water on your Invisalign trays as it could warp them.
- Invisalign is an excellent option for most cases, including if you’ve already had braces before and notice some shifting.
- Aligners are made of a select type of thermoplastic material explicitly created for Invisalign.
It is essential to discuss with your dentist or orthodontist what outcome you hope to achieve before starting Invisalign treatment. Outcomes, length of treatment, cost, etc. will all be discussed before beginning treatment. If you have any questions about Invisalign, we encourage you to contact us to schedule an appointment today.
They Aid in Chewing, Biting, Talking and Smiling
Baby teeth, most importantly, are used for everyday function. A full set of baby teeth are an essential component in biting and chewing, in forming the correct sounds for speech, and for confidence in smiling. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, it can make any number of these essential functions more difficult. If biting and chewing are difficult, there is a risk of inadequate nutrition. If talking and smiling are difficult, it can result in problems with socialization and self-confidence.
Hold the Place for the Adult Teeth
The adult teeth use the baby teeth as precursors when they begin to erupt. The adult teeth find their place by resorbing the root of the baby tooth above them and erupting in the same position. If the baby tooth is lost prematurely, to a cavity/infection or trauma, there will be no precursor for the adult tooth to follow for the eruption. And the likelihood of erupting out of position will be higher, leading to difficulty with cleaning and possibly the need for future braces.
Affect the Health of the Adult Teeth
If there is trauma or infection with a baby tooth, it can lead to problems with the future adult tooth. Injury can cause the root of the baby tooth to hit the vulnerable, forming adult tooth and affect the development, sometimes leading to a discoloured area when it eventually erupts. A large cavity that turns into an infection can have similar results, as the infection can travel up the root of the baby tooth and affect the space the adult tooth is forming in.
Proper Speech and Facial Development
Baby teeth are needed for proper speech and facial development. If baby teeth are lost premature, there could be delays or issues with the development of the face and jaw and the ability to create proper sounds for speech.
If you are missing one or more teeth, it is vital to have them replaced using either a denture, a bridge or an implant for several reasons. Replacing missing teeth restores your mouth to its natural function. You will be able to smile, talk, bite and eat with confidence. But what you might not be aware of is that missing teeth can lead to changes in the shape of the jaw and cheeks by creating concavities. Missing teeth can also lead to shrinking of the jawbone in affected areas because there are no longer teeth to support the height of the bone. There are several options to replace missing teeth. Your dentist will discuss which option will work best for you.
Partial or Full Denture
Dentures that are used to replace one or more teeth are called a partial denture. A full denture replaces an entire arch of teeth. A denture attaches to either the top and or bottom of the mouth to fill the space of the missing teeth. Dentures can help with aesthetics and eating but are not the most comfortable, convenient or long-term solution.
A dental bridge is an excellent solution for replacing just one tooth, or sometimes two teeth side by side. A bridge consists of the pontic tooth or teeth which are the fake teeth used to close the space, which is attached to crowns on either side of the pontic(s). The downside to a dental bridge is that the adjacent teeth on either side must have crowns placed to support the pontic, even if they are healthy teeth.
Dental Implants & Implant-Supported Dentures
The gold standard in tooth replacement is now dental implants. Dental implants are the best option to feel, look and function just like a natural tooth. You don’t need to sacrifice the adjacent teeth for an implant, and an implant helps to save the bone where the tooth was lost. A dental implant consists of a titanium screw that is inserted into the bone. Once placed, a porcelain crown is secured to the top of the dental implant. When taken care of properly, implants can last a lifetime. Implants can also be used to replace a full arch of teeth by supporting dentures that don’t need to be taken out and put back in every day.
If you are missing a tooth or multiple teeth and believe you may benefit from a replacement option, or if you have any questions about tooth replacement options, contact us to schedule an appointment today.
The first baby teeth to erupt in your child’s mouth are the lower front two teeth, which will erupt around 6-10 months old. As soon as your child has a tooth, it is essential to use a toothbrush to keep it free of bacteria. Before teeth erupt, you can use a damp cloth or gauze to wipe your baby’s mouth after they’ve had milk and before bed. Brushing your child’s teeth may be difficult at first, but gets easier with time.
Brushing your Baby’s Teeth
It is essential to get into the habit of cleaning your baby’s mouth as soon as possible to get them used to the experience. Some babies will be comfortable with this experience from the beginning, and some will cry and put up a fight. If your baby is upset while having their mouth cleaned, try laying them on the bathroom floor after bath time, with their head in your lap, and use one hand with the toothbrush and the other hand to hold their hands away from their mouth. Try the best you can to access all teeth with the toothbrush. As the child gets older, this experience will be more natural. Begin using a fluoridated toothpaste around the age of 3 with only a grain of rice size amount on the toothbrush head. Fluoridated toothpaste helps to prevent cavities. Flossing is also an essential part of the regimen as soon as any teeth contact each other. Usually, the first teeth to touch will be in the back, and these are the most susceptible teeth to in-between cavities.
Checking your Child’s Brushing
It is recommended to help your child brush/ check their brushing until the age of 8. Below eight years old, their hand dexterity and understanding of the importance of brushing might be lacking and if left unchecked, might lead to gum issues and cavities.
Tools to Help your Child Brush
There are many aids to help your child brush adequately and for the full 2 minutes. Some toothbrushes play a song for 2 minutes, so your child knows to continue brushing until the song is over. Some toothbrushes will give a beep at the end of the 2 minutes. Another option is a sand timer that your child flips as soon as they start brushing, and can stop once all the sand has gone through. It is crucial that your child feels comfortable with the toothbrush they are using and the flavour of the toothpaste so that they enjoy brush time.