You brush, you floss, you’ve started scraping your tongue, and you come in for regular check ups. Perhaps you’ve been wondering why you need to get dental x-rays on top of your excellent oral care routine. Are dental x-rays really necessary for your oral health? The answer is yes: dental x-rays are a useful diagnostic tool for Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos and help them detect damage and disease not visible during a general exam. This month we spoke with Dr. Karagiorgos about why dental x-rays are an important part of your oral health care.
Dental X-rays provide dentists the opportunity to identify any potential problems in the mouth. What exactly are you looking for when you review X-rays?
Dr. Karagiorgos: X-rays are a very important diagnostic tool that allow dentists to see more of people’s teeth than what we can see in the mouth with just magnifying lenses and a headlight. With x-rays we can see things like tooth decay between adjacent teeth, we can see if there are any potential problems under the gums, in the bone or in the roots of the teeth.
Are there any types of x-rays that hurt or require special preparation or protection?
Dr. Karagiorgos: Dental x-rays themselves don’t hurt per se. There are conditions in some patients that can make it a little more difficult for those patients to take x-rays. For example, patients with a limited ability to open their mouth, patients that have a very strong gag reflex or some that have larger bony protrusions in their mouths. X-rays have evolved and improved quite a bit over the years. At Falmouth Dental Arts, we have state-of-the-art digital x-ray sensors that allow us to take and immediately see diagnostic images in high resolution, using far less radiation than the previous generation film x-rays.
What are the most serious diseases or conditions that you can prevent thanks to taking regular X-rays?
Dr. Karagiorgos: X-rays can help us routinely detect things like dental decay and tooth infections. X-rays can also help us diagnose very serious general health problems. We can see pathology in the bone like invasive cysts or cancerous tumors. Panoramic films and 3D cone beam x-rays that rotate around the head are commonly used to evaluate the jaw joints or to see wisdom teeth coming in. These x-rays with expanded fields of view can also help us see things like restricted airways, salivary blockages or even calcifications in the circulatory system of the neck which can put patients at increased risk of stroke.
What has been the most surprising thing that you have seen on Dental X-rays?
Dr. Karagiorgos: I just got back from a dental convention where a dentist presented the latest imaging technology. He presented us a slide showing x-rays taken on a 6 year old boy. His images showed what looked like a round metal object in the boy’s left sinus. The x-ray image was of such great quality that we were able to make out George Washington’s bust! It turns out that without anyone’s knowledge, the boy had lodged a quarter so deep into his nose that it ended up in the boy’s maxillary sinus. That was pretty surprising to see, but even more surprising was the very next slide.
It was an x-ray of the sinus of the boy’s 8-year-old brother. Apparently, the brother had a lego brick in the exact same location!
Are there any medical conditions or situations where you advise patients to not undergo x-rays?
Dr. Karagiorgos: Typically, no. Dental X-rays are of lower doses of radiation. They are considered generally safe. That said, we specifically try to limit x-ray exposure to expectant women. We are always weighing the risks and benefits of every treatment, and this includes taking x-rays.
As dentists, we practice the ALARA principle with radiation. ALARA stands for “as low as reasonably achievable”. This principle means that even if it is a small dose of radiation, if there is no direct benefit, you should try to avoid it.
Thank you, Dr. Karagiorgos!
When was the last time you had x-rays of your teeth taken? We recommend routine Bitewings x-rays for adults every 1-2 years depending on decay history, gum health, and dry mouth. For children and teens we recommend it every year. Major films are recommended every 3-5 years for both adults and children to monitor growth and development as well as periodontal health. Call our office today at 207.781.5900 to make your appointment!
*Image courtesy of www.wikipedia.org
Did you know that saliva is the mouth’s primary defense against tooth decay? We speak the truth…saliva is a really big deal! Saliva helps wash away food, fortify your teeth with minerals, and neutralize acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. It is crucial to your oral health, which is why if you experience dry mouth, Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos want to know. Dry mouth, also known xerostomia, can be a symptom of another medical issue or a side effect of certain medications. It can be a particular issue for patients over 60. So, what causes dry mouth? And what are the complications that can result from it? Let’s take a closer look:
Causes of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is not a disease, but can be a symptom of other medical conditions. One example is Sjogren’s Syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own moisture producing glands. Other conditions that can cause dry mouth include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and cystic fibrosis. Hormonal changes in the body like women experience during pregnancy and menopause can also impact saliva production. Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos are part of your health care team, and if you have a medical condition that impacts your saliva or mouth, it is helpful to keep us in the loop. Share your medical history with us so we can help you be proactive about your symptoms and your oral health.
Along with your medical history, it is also important to share what medications you take with Dr. Bruncini and Dr. Karagiorgos. Certain medications can have dry mouth as a side effect. These medications can range from chemotherapy to antidepressants to over-the-counter antihistamines. Dry mouth is one of the most common adverse side effects and fortunately there are options to help restore moisture to your mouth. Sharing your medication list with us helps us know all the factors contributing to your oral health so we can help design a treatment plan that is right for you.
Complications of Dry Mouth
It can be uncomfortable to experience dry mouth and problematic to your dental health. You may experience complications such as a sore throat, trouble speaking, difficulty chewing and swallowing, or notice that your saliva feels sticky and that you have bad breath. Mouth sores and yeast infections are other complications that may arise. If you wear dentures, you may experience issues with their fit and comfort without proper saliva production. Your mouth will also be exposed to more bacteria which puts you at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Don’t worry, if you’re experiencing some of the discomfort associated with dry mouth, we can help! Talk to Dr. Brunacini, Dr. Karagiorgos, or your hygienist. We will have tips and recommendations to help you find relief while you care for your teeth and mouth. For example, we can help you find a sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva and restore moisture, or steer you towards oral rinses that will replace moisture. As always, remember to keep brushing twice a day and flossing once a day! If you have more questions or concerns about your oral health or would like to schedule an appointment or consultation, give us a call at 207.781.5900.
**Image courtesy of www.thedoctorweighsin.com
We all want white teeth, but the best way to achieve that is to understand what stains the teeth to begin with. It’s important to know that teeth have pores and absorb similarly to our skin. We often think twice about applying certain products and chemicals to our bodies, so we should care the same for our teeth! Luckily for all of us, there are methods to remove stains from teeth, and allow us to regain their natural shade of white.
What stains our teeth?
The foods and drinks we consume have much to do with the discoloration on our teeth. Though they’re packed with nutrients, acidic foods such as citrus fruits or tomatoes have a tendency to stain teeth a yellowish color. These foods also strip enamel from teeth, revealing the dentin beneath. Coffee, black/green tea, blackberries, soda, and red wine all cause discoloration. The bacteria in our mouths latch on to sugar, and when bacteria feed on sugar they release acids in the process: acids that create tooth decay. Even those who enjoy seltzer water are not off the hook; tooth discoloration can happen with anything carbonated due to the acids involved.
We understand that no one wants to worry about their teeth when enjoying morning coffee, so we’re here to help you achieve your best smile. There are several safe and effective methods to remove food and drink stains; however, before trying any sort of whitening you should be aware that the ingredients in whitener dehydrate the teeth. When teeth become dehydrated, they also become porous. It’s then difficult for them to insulate the nerve which causes the teeth/gums to experience temperature sensitivity that could last for 16-36 hours after whitening. The teeth naturally rehydrate within this time from saliva.
Professional teeth whitening is perfectly safe. The best time to whiten teeth is before bed and it’s good to wait 48 hours before consuming dark liquids. This should allow enough time for the teeth to rehydrate making them more impermeable. The main ingredient in most whiteners is hydrogen peroxide or baking soda.
If you’re interested in whitening your teeth here are some methods for you to look into. Please note that some methods may take more time than others. Also, not everyone will see the same results. Unfortunately, if the enamel has been stripped from your teeth there is no way to whiten the dentin beneath.
- Over-the-Counter trays and gels
- Whitening strips
- Coconut oil pulling
- Professional whitening
If you have any questions about the best option for you, or if you’d like to learn more about our professional whitening service, please give us a call at 207-781-5900.
We all know how packed candies are with sugars, but during Halloween the temptation for sweet treats is too great to resist. A few pieces here and there are fine to eat in moderation, but too many candies will load devilish sugars on our teeth and eat away at our enamel if we don’t follow a proper brushing and flossing routine. How can we enjoy Halloween’s customary perks of eating candy while maintaining good oral health? There are several ways you can do both during this year’s festive night.
- Limit time eating candy. The amount of time your teeth are exposed to sugary candies plays a big role in maintaining proper oral health. If you eat a meal and treat yourself to a piece or two of candy immediately after, your teeth are better off. This is because saliva production increases when you eat meals and cancels out the acid bacteria produces in your mouth. By eating candy directly after a meal, your saliva will help rinse away food particles and candy sugars quickly.
- Choose candies sensibly. Hard candies are the absolute worst. The amount of time they linger in your mouth, spreading sugars along your teeth, can contribute to tooth decay. Similarly, if you bite down on a hard sucker you may risk cracking a molar. To be safe, choose candies like chocolates that disappear quickly. Your teeth will be exposed to sugars much shorter this way.
- Avoid sticky candies. Candy like taffy, caramel, and gummies stick to your teeth relentlessly. Long after you’ve finished chewing, particles of these sticky treats may remain stuck to your molars, eating away at your enamel. You want to be sure you avoid these dental threats as best you can to reduce the chances of getting tooth decay.
- Brush, floss, and drink water. Of course, if you can’t avoid sneaking in a few candies during October’s customary holiday, remember to take care of your teeth after snacking. Brush well, floss, and drink water. Following this routine after consuming sugary snacks (or any meal) is good practice to maintain optimal oral health.
This Halloween, try out some of our tips to enjoy a tooth-friendly holiday. Don’t forget to schedule your next cleaning, if it’s not on the calendar already. Call us at (207) 781-5900 to book an appointment.
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that is widely celebrated, but celebrated in many different ways. One tradition that is of the more common is giving your valentine candy on February 14th. But why?
Chocolate candies as we know them today were created sometime in the late 1800’s. It was not long after their creation that they began to be marketed and created in heart shapes. What a thoughtful gift, right? Of course. Chocolate – especially shaped like a heart – is considered a valuable, divine, delicious, decadent, sophisticated gift. It’s the perfect gift.
Or at least it was in the 1800’s. Maybe it is now time that we start thinking outside the box (of chocolates) a little bit again to find some “sweet” ways to show our valentines just how much we care.
If you haven’t noticed…this is our helpless way of trying to keep our beloved patients away from the candy 😉
We know that this tradition is so deeply engrained within the holiday that it would take much more than a mere blog post to change that. And who are we kidding, it is sweet – literally and figuratively.
But don’t get carried away. Lay off the half priced candy on February 15th! This we are serious about 😉
We hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled with all of your favorite treats and most importantly, your favorite people.