OST Blog

Dental X-rays: The Inside Story

December 23rd, 2020

If you’re feeling a bit nervous before you visit our office for a surgical procedure, we want to make your visit as worry-free as possible. We are happy to explain procedures, equipment, and sedation options so you know just how safe and comfortable your experience can be. And if X-rays are a concern, we can put your mind at ease here as well.

What Exactly Are X-rays?

Sometimes patients feel reluctant about the process of imaging because X-rays are a kind of radiation. But the fact is, radiation is all around us. We are exposed to radiation naturally from our soil and water, sun and air, as well as from modern inventions such as cell phones, WiFi, and air travel.

Why is radiation so common? Because matter throughout the universe constantly gives off energy, and the energy that is emitted is called radiation. This radiation takes two forms—as particles (which we don’t need to consider!) and as traveling rays. This second type is known as electromagnetic radiation, created by photons traveling in regular waves at the speed of light.

We are exposed to electromagnetic radiation every day, because, whether we can see them or not, these different wavelengths and frequencies create various forms of light. Radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays are all part of the electromagnetic light spectrum.

Different types of radiation on this spectrum have different wavelengths and different frequencies, and produce different amounts of energy. Longer wavelengths mean lower frequencies and less energy. Because X-rays have shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies than, for example, radio waves and visible light, they have more energy.

How Do Dental X-rays Work?

An X-ray machine produces a very narrow beam of X-ray photons. This beam passes through the body and captures images of our teeth and jaws on special film or digital sensors inside the mouth (intraoral X-rays), or on film or sensors located outside the mouth (extraoral X-rays). These X-ray images are also known as radiographs.

Why are X-rays able to take pictures inside our bodies? Remember that higher energy we talked about earlier? This energy enables X-rays to pass through the softer, less dense parts of our bodies, which are seen as gray background in a radiograph. But some substances in our bodies absorb X-rays, such as the calcium found in our bones and teeth. This is why they show up as sharp white images in radiographs. 

There are many medical and dental conditions which can be treated by oral surgeons. When the problem is primarily a dental one, we have several different X-ray options which can be used as necessary, including:

  • Periapical X-rays, which allow us to look at one or two specific teeth from crown to root.
  • Panoramic X-rays, which use a special machine to rotate around the head to create a complete two-dimensional picture of teeth and jaws.
  • Cone Beam Computed Tomography, which uses an external machine to produce digital images creating a three-dimensional picture of the teeth and jaws.

Why Do We Need X-rays?

If all of our dental conditions were visible on the surface, there would be no need for X-rays. But since they are not, we use X-rays to discover such conditions as infection in a tooth’s root or bone, a decrease in bone density, and fractures or other injuries. And to properly plan treatment, we often require 3-D images, which show the spatial relationship of teeth, roots, bone, nerves, and sinuses.

Many dental procedures benefit from X-ray imaging for diagnosis and treatment planning, among them:

  • Extraction of a seriously decayed or damaged tooth
  • Wisdom tooth extraction
  • Dental implant surgery
  • Treatment of traumatic injuries
  • Root surgeries such as apicoectomies and root amputations, which can save a tooth when infection recurs after a root canal
  • Replacement of an avulsed, or knocked out, tooth

How Do Oral Surgeons Make Sure Your X-rays Are As Safe As They Can Be?

First of all, the amount of radiation you are exposed to with a dental X-ray is very small. In fact, a typical panoramic X-ray provides roughly the same amount of radiation we are exposed to through our natural surroundings in just one day. Even so, Dr. Ford and Dr. Guter and our team are committed to making sure patients are exposed to as little radiation as possible.

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging have been designed to make sure all patients have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. We ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • When treating children, we set exposure times based on each child’s size and age.

And now that we’ve talked about some things you might like to know,

Please Let Us Know If . . .

  • You have X-rays from another doctor. We’ll let you know if your earlier X-rays might be useful, and how to transfer them. (With digital X-ray technology, this transfer can be accomplished electronically!)
  • You’re pregnant, or think you might be pregnant. Even though radiation exposure is very low with dental radiographs, unless there is a dental emergency, dentists and doctors recommend against X-rays for pregnant patients.

X-rays play a vital part in helping us diagnose and treat our patients. If you have any concerns, contact our Virginia Beach, VA office. When it comes to making sure you’re comfortable with all of our procedures, including any X-rays that might be necessary, we’re happy to give you all the inside information!

Do I Need Corrective Jaw Surgery?

December 16th, 2020

Our jawbones seem like fairly uncomplicated mechanisms—an open-and-shut situation, as it were. But in reality, the interactions of bone, muscle, ligaments, teeth—all the many parts making up this vital area—are very complex. Bones need to fit together properly; the joint that connects the jawbones needs to function smoothly; teeth and jaw need to be in alignment.

And because the jaw is a complex mechanism, there are a number of different problems that can arise if everything isn’t meshing perfectly. Things we should take for granted—eating normally, sleeping well, breathing freely, feeling healthy and self-confident—can become challenging.

If you suffer from jaw problems, whether major or minor, it’s worth looking into corrective jaw surgery. Which jaw-related conditions can benefit? Among them:

  • Problems with biting and swallowing
  • Orthodontic problems that can’t be treated with orthodontics alone, such as open bite or underbite
  • Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
  • Accidents or injuries
  • Birth defects
  • Receding or protruding jaw
  • Breathing difficulties

If you have trouble eating, problems with sleeping, speech difficulties, or any other problems caused by jaw structure or jaw misalignment, or if you have orthodontic issues that can’t be resolved with braces alone, or if jaw pain affects your daily life, it’s well worth an examination by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Oral surgeons like Dr. Ford and Dr. Guter are specialists in both diagnosing jaw problems and correcting them.

Because the conditions that can benefit from corrective jaw surgery are so wide-ranging, surgical and non-surgical treatments are varied and specialized as well. This is why working with an oral surgeon is so important.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are experts in all forms of jaw surgery. They have four to six years of additional medical training in a hospital-based residency program. They have trained with medical residents in general surgery, anesthesiology, plastic surgery, internal medicine, and other specialties concentrating on treating the jaw, mouth, and face. They are experts in advanced oral and facial surgeries.

Oral surgeons restore the jaw’s function. And this functionality, in turn, can restore your health, your appearance, and your quality of life. If you, together with your doctor, your dentist, or your orthodontist, believe you might be helped with corrective jaw surgery, make an appointment at our Virginia Beach, VA office—it’s an open-and-shut decision!

Dental Implants vs. Natural Teeth

December 9th, 2020

If you're considering getting an implant, you'll most certainly have questions for Dr. Ford and Dr. Guter. You might be wondering how a dental implant compares to a real tooth. Let's look at some of the differences between implants and natural teeth.

It should be noted that one of the primary goals of implant dentistry is to try to provide the same form and function as your natural teeth. However, with that in mind, know that an implant is not a tooth. An implant does not decay and does not have dental pulp or periodontal membrane like teeth.

An implant won't always work in every case, but they do have some great advantages when they are called for. Some advantages of an implant:

  • Often last for decades without needing to be replaced
  • Create a functional and aesthetically pleasing replacement for your missing tooth
  • Don't require surrounding teeth for support
  • Do not decay like natural teeth
  • Can be fixed or removable
  • Are able to replace single tooth or multiple teeth

There are downsides to implants where natural teeth win out. The disadvantages of implants include:

  • Higher cost compared to traditional dentistry
  • It's a surgical procedure which requires a period of healing afterward
  • Fracturing of fixtures and loosening of screws can occur (only in about 5% of patients)
  • Since there is no cushion between the implant and the bone, fracturing of crowns and bridges is more common with implants than with natural teeth, though this is rare.

It's best to speak with Dr. Ford and Dr. Guter about your options regarding implants. Let us know what you want to achieve and we'll work with you as best we can to accomplish that. And don't hesitate to contact our Virginia Beach, VA office for further questions about the procedure.

My mouth is dry. What can I do?

December 2nd, 2020

Nobody likes a dry mouth. It is an uncomfortable and sometimes oddly unexplainable sensation that most people like to avoid. It is not a condition that automatically sends you into a panic about your health, however, a dry mouth can be a bother and something you certainly want to change if possible. So, if you find yourself in the unpleasant position of having a dry mouth, here is what you can do.

Chew Sugar-free Gum: Chewing sugar-free gum will stimulate saliva in your mouth. The chewing motion of your jaw and teeth should take care of at least some of your dry mouth problem.

Suck on Sugar-free Candy: Similarly to chewing sugar free gum, if you suck on sugar free candy it should create more saliva in your mouth and moisturize it in the process.

Cut out the Caffeine:Caffeine can contribute to a dry mouth so by limiting, or eliminating your intake all together, you may find that your dry mouth is no more.

Stop Using Tobacco Products: Tobacco is another cause of dry mouth. Whether it is smokeless tobacco products or cigarettes, if you stop using them your dry mouth will likely improve. And not to forget, these products are exceedingly bad for your oral health to begin with, so you will be doing your mouth a favor even more so.

Drink Lots of Water: It may seem obvious, but drinking lots of water will likely improve your dry mouth. This is because dry mouth is usually a sign of dehydration, so plenty of fluids will surely help.

Dry mouth can be unpleasant, but it is often easily solved by either drinking more water, or trying one of the previously mentioned techniques. If the problem still persists you can always visit our Virginia Beach, VA office to see Dr. Ford and Dr. Guter. More often than not, doing one of the above will leave your mouth more moisturized than it was previously, and hopefully it will be long-lasting as well.

2875 Sabre St #260
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
(757) 499-6886

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