Monday, July 10, 2017

Radiation Risks? The Truth about Dental X-Rays

Often, a family trip to the dentist will feature the use of an x-ray camera. The dental hygienists will cover you or your children with a heavy apron and make you chomp on some bitewings, while the camera moves and clicks around you. Of course, the images produced by the x-rays have a purpose: cavities, jawbone degradation, and other oral health issues are made easily visible, allowing the dentist to address these issues directly. However, x-rays are a form of radiation, and some people are concerned with that exposing someone to dental x-rays will cause cancer. These concerns are especially strong for parents taking their children to the dentist.

X-rays are a type of ionizing radiation, and ionizing radiation has been shown to cause cancer. Ionizing radiation, upon passing through the body, strip electrons from the atoms this energy passes. The resulting protons, known as free radicals, then can damage the cells of the body. While these cells return to normal most of the time, on rare occasions the cells will heal with some abnormalities. These abnormal cells, consequently, can grow into cancer. From this alone, people believe that dental x-rays will cause cancer.

However, you’re always exposed to ionizing radiation. On average, your body is exposed to 3.1 millisieverts (mSv) of natural radiation alone per year. At .005 mSv, the radiation you receive from the aforementioned dental x-ray is less than 1.6% of your daily background radiation exposure. You are exposed to the same level of radiation just from sunlight each day. Additionally, each x-ray is an individual dose rather than constant exposure, which is another factor in the cancer risks of radiation exposure. X-rays only increase the odds of dying of cancer by 1 in 2,000; compare this to the natural 1 in 5 chance you have of dying of cancer.

Moreover, there are precautions in place for younger patients to help minimize their exposure. Technically, children do have a higher risk of developing cancer from radiation than adults, so dentists make up for it with stricter safety measures. Lead aprons are almost ubiquitous, but many doctors will also reduce the amount of radiation emitted by the camera when taking x-ray images of pediatric patients. The same precautions can be given to pregnant women, as fetuses are assumed to be just as vulnerable as children. Your children could be receiving special considerations regarding radiation exposure risks already.

Ultimately, the benefits of detecting an oral health issue as early as possible far outweighs the negligible cancer risk. Not only are healthy teeth and gums alone something worth keeping, but many recent studies have shown connections between oral health and overall bodily health as well. Being able to detect and address these issues is paramount to your health and your children’s health. So, the next time your dentist readies the bitewings and camera, don’t be afraid. The benefits are high, the risk is low, and the dentist is likely being extra careful with your children anyways.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Do you have a dental emergency?

Knocking out a permanent tooth is a true dental emergency. Don’t be afraid to contact your dentist right away. If you knock out a permanent tooth, here is what to do. 

1. Hold the tooth by the crown and not the root so as not to spread bacteria unto the root 

2. Rinse dirt or any debris off with room temperature water but be gentle with the root. 

3. Try to reinsert the tooth until you get to the dentist and hold it into place. 

4. If reinserting is not an option, keep it moist by covering it with milk or water. 

5. For optimal outcome, try to get to a dentist within 30 minutes.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Periodontal Disease

What It Is
Periodontal disease, known as gum disease or periodontitis, is one of the most common causes of tooth loss. In the United States, it is estimated that half of Americans aged 30 or older have advanced gum disease. While highly prevalent, this dental condition is preventable with a good oral health regimen.

Cause
Periodontal disease symptoms become apparent as bacteria and debris accumulate around teeth and below the gum line and hardens into tartar. If not removed by a professional, tartar and bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums and weakening of teeth.

There are variables that can increase your risk of periodontitis that range from genetic predisposition and underlying health conditions, to certain lifestyle habits. Diet, taking certain medications, decreased immunity, and hormonal changes can also increase your chances of developing gum disease.


Stages
Periodontitis begins with the onset of gingivitis. In this early stage, bacteria builds up, irritating the surrounding gums. As bacteria accumulate and plaque builds and hardens into tartar, there is a weakening of bone and connective tissue that keeps teeth in their sockets. As bacteria spreads, pockets that trap further bacteria begin to form around teeth and under soft tissue. In patients with advanced periodontal disease, teeth become loose and fall out.


Symptoms
One of the most difficult aspects of spotting periodontal disease without help from a dentist is that the condition can progress slowly in patients and may not always produce obvious signs. Patients may notice:

- Gum tenderness
- Gum recession
- Bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth or a change in teeth alignment

Diagnosis of gum disease typically involves visiting a dentist for a visual examination of your oral condition, as well as charting pocket depths and using X-Rays to check bone loss in areas with deeper periodontal pockets.

Treatment
Early diagnosis gives patients the greatest chance of reversing damage with nonsurgical treatments. These procedures include root scaling and planing, which removes tartar and bacteria from surfaces of teeth and beneath the gums and smooths root surfaces,. Antibiotics that are either taken orally or topically as a rinse, can also be used to reduce bacteria and inflammation.

For patients with advanced periodontitis, dental surgery may be the most effective option to reduce pocket size and restore the healthy appearance and supportive structure of soft tissue.


Prevention
Periodontal disease is preventable by practicing consistent and good oral hygiene. As a rule of thumb, you should be taking between 3-5 minutes twice day to care for your teeth and gums by flossing first to loosen any food particles and bacteria, and brushing to clean all surfaces of teeth. You should also visit your dentist twice a year for thorough teeth cleanings. Patients displaying early signs of gum disease may require more frequent dental visits throughout the year.

If are exhibiting signs and symptoms of gum disease, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you can receive treatment, the more likely you will be able to reverse any damage caused by periodontal disease.

Friday, October 21, 2016

5 Tips to Prevent Cavities this Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner carrying with it a common tradition to eat your weight in sugary sweets. While trick-or-treating in your neighborhood with your children dressed as your favorite ghoul or ghost can be one exciting night out of the year to indulge in fun, eating too much candy can cause a lifetime of dental problems. One day out of the year shouldn’t ruin all the hard work of maintaining good dental hygiene, so here are five tips to be aware of this Holiday season.

How does sugar cause cavities?

Before getting into these tips, we need to understand what causes dental caries, more commonly known as cavities. Contrary to popular belief, sugar doesn’t directly cause cavities. However, the bacteria living in the mouth sharing your leftover sweets produces an acid byproduct that causes plaque, in turn developing tooth decay as the acid eats away at the enamel creating the cavity.

Top 5 Tips to Prevent Cavities

#1: Remember to Brush and Floss
A good hygiene routines is essential to prevent the development of cavities, so it’s necessary to teach children at an early age how to care for their teeth. Brushing and flossing removes bacteria that potentially will harm teeth if left to form plaque. Practicing good dental hygiene this Halloween is your best bet for preventing a lifetime of dental ailments. It’s especially important to brush before bed as plaque can easily develop while you sleep.

#2: Rinse with Mouthwash
Some would say mouthwash can be overkill when a person already brushes and flosses, but cavity fighting rinse can help. Mouthwash cleans behind all the hard-to-reach areas a toothbrush or floss couldn’t reach, killing hidden germs that create plaque and tartar. Mouthwash that contains fluoride will also help to strengthen enamel to protect your teeth and gums.

#3:  Eat in Moderation
While it can be tempting to eat all the sugary treasure you’ve collected from your neighbors, if there’s any time to start practicing moderation, Halloween is the perfect night. Nibbling on candy throughout the day gives the bacteria a thriving environment. Portion the treats to give your teeth a break and make sure that if you cannot brush right after, that you at least rinse your mouth with water or chew sugarless gum to help remove dangerous bacteria.

#4: Share
You don’t need to eat all that chocolate and candy. As a society addicted to sugar, we need finding ways to get rid of the excess sweets without eating or wasting them. Not only will your friends and family appreciate your consideration, your teeth will be thanking you over and over with a beautiful smile.

#5: Stay Hydrated
Dry mouth causes an increased production of bacteria in the mouth. Additionally, drinking water causes the bacteria and excess sugar residue to wash into the stomach, an area of the body that can easily break down and digest the material that would otherwise damage teeth’s enamel.
While it can be scary to think of all the cavities developed on Halloween, taking the proper precautions will help you prepare for the sugar overload and still allow you to enjoy the holiday. With these five tips to keep your mouth safe from bacteria, you can bravely go into Halloween properly equipped with your trusty toothbrush and anti-cavity dental floss.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

To Take Good Care of Your Teeth, Follow These Six Brushing Tips

Brushing everyday is one of the best ways to take care of your teeth. However, it's not just that simple. For optimal dental care, follow these six tips.

1. Pick the right brush - Not all brushes are the same, and you need to choose one that fits your mouth.

2. Brush the right way - You should hold your brush at a 45-F-degree angle to your gums and use an up-and-down motion with short strokes.

3. Take your time - While brushing twice a day is recommended, three times is probably best. Also, whenever you brush, make sure you do it for at least two minutes.

4. Don't overdo it - Conversely, don't brush too much or for too long, as this can wear down enamel and hurt your gums.

5. Keep it clean - Always rinse your brush, as germs can linger on it.

Make sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months or if the bristles are becoming frayed or broken.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are an effective tool for preventing tooth decay, especially for children. Sealants are made from a clear, plastic-like material and painted onto the surfaces of the teeth. Most often, sealants are applied where the majority of chewing is performed, on the premolars and molars. While regular brushing and flossing is imperative to good dental health, brushing and flossing alone can’t always protect the teeth from decay. Harmful particles can get trapped in the grooves of back teeth, however, sealants can prevent damage from occurring.

Sealant Application 


Sealants are applied by your dental professional following an exam and cleaning. Once teeth are thoroughly clean, they are dried and an absorbent material like cotton is placed around the teeth to absorb excess moisture. The surfaces of teeth are lightly roughed by an acidic solution, which helps the sealant grip the teeth. After being rinsed and dried, teeth are painted with the sealant. Some dentists use a special light to harden and cure the sealant.

Are Sealants Right for You? 


Sealants are commonly applied to children’s teeth to prevent tooth decay. Young teeth are especially susceptible to tooth. Usually, kids between the ages of 6 and 14 are good candidates for sealants. However, children even younger may benefit in some cases. Even some adults are good candidates for sealants, that is, if they don’t have fillings or any current decay. The protective effects of sealants can last 10 years or even longer.

Modern Dentistry in Indianapolis 


At the Indianapolis office of Dr. Richard Stuart, we not only apply sealants but offer comprehensive preventive and cosmetic dentistry services as well. Our Indianapolis dental office provides compassionate dental care from a highly experienced team of oral health professionals. Whether you need a routine cleaning or a more in-depth dental service, we can help. From restorations to implants, whitening services to laser dentistry — we do it all!

Get on the path to a healthier, more confident smile today. Don’t delay your dental health — good oral health is imperative to overall wellness. Dr. Stuart and his staff are eager to welcome you to the practice; call 317-660-6223 to schedule your appointment.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

What if My Product Isn't ADA-Approved?

The American Dentistry Association seal of approval is awarded to consumer oral hygiene products that meet ADA-defined standards. The seal is intended to help consumers make informed choices about the products they use.

Products that are ADA-approved have undergone extensive testing for safety and efficacy, to ensure that any claims made about them are factually correct. Companies that submit products for assessment have to submit ingredient lists and data from laboratory studies and clinical trials that support the product claims, and show that the product is being made using good manufacturing practices. Each product is assessed by around 100 consultants, from a variety of scientific disciplines relevant to oral health and hygiene. Once a product has been approved, the packaging is required to display the ADA seal.

So is it okay to use products that are not ADA-approved? If a product hasn't been approved, that doesn't automatically mean it's unsafe or ineffective—but using ADA-approved products takes the guesswork out of choosing and using effective products. For example, if an ADA-approved toothpaste claims to be effective at preventing tooth decay, the presence of the seal means you can be sure it's a valid claim. Many Crest, Aim, Listerine and Tom products are ADA approved, just to name a few.