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Franklyn Alexander, DDS
General & Cosmetic Dentistry

Patients Choice Winner 2016

Dental Blog

Read the latest dental information and news about our dental firm.

Do You Need Dental X-Rays?

Are x-rays harmful? Do you really need dental x-rays? If so, are there limits on how often you should receive dental x-rays? Read on to discover the answers to frequently asked questions about dental x-rays.

What are the Risks Involved with X-Rays?

X-rays expose your body to radiation in order to form an image. The amount of radiation required to form a dental x-ray is normally very small. The various systems and processes at work on Earth result in what is known as “background radiation,” and the amount a person absorbs daily is about the same amount as an x-ray produces. The effects of radiation; however, ARE cumulative. The dangers and possibilities of harmful effects from radiation increase each time a person is exposed to x-rays or other forms of radiation. Children are particularly susceptible to long-term effects of radiation since they have so much time ahead of them, and also because their cells are growing and dividing very quickly. Radiation has been known to cause cancer as well as genetic mutation. The thyroid gland is particularly susceptible to radiation, and research has shown that some cases of thyroid cancer can be linked to repeated x-rays.

How Often Should My Family and I Need X-Rays?

According to guidelines set out by the American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration, children who are not at high risk for decay or other oral problems should receive dental x-rays every year or two. Teens with healthy teeth and gums can receive x-rays every 16 months to three years, and adults with no dental issues can receive them every two to three years.

X-rays should only be used after a thorough exam by your dentist in order to discover any problems that may be lurking out of sight. People who have tooth decay, gum disease, or other condition affecting the health of teeth and gums may need x-rays more often.

Dental X-Rays are Your Choice

When taking your children to dental appointments inform the dental staff that you would like to be notified before any x-rays are taken. It is okay to ask why your child needs a particular procedure and turn it down if you feel it is unnecessary. It is important to remember; however, that x-rays are an extremely useful diagnostic tool with huge advantages when it comes to identifying and treating oral health problems.

How to Eat for Healthier Teeth

What you eat is only part of the equation for healthy teeth. How you eat also plays a significant role. By making simple tweaks to your eating and drinking behavior, you can improve the health of your teeth and fend off harmful bacteria.

Smarter Drinking Habits

Do you have a tendency to leave a soft drink or sugary coffee beverage on your desk throughout the day, sipping as you go about your work? The next time you’re tempted to do this, remember that you are continuously bathing your teeth in sugar. This constant sugary environment provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which feed on the sugar to create acids that cause damage to teeth and gums. Even juices contain sugar that can have the same impact.

If you feel like sipping on something throughout the day, opt for water. If you need a little kick of flavor, add some fruit to your water to infuse it.

If you do decide to drink something which contains a little sugar, try to finish the beverage quickly. You can also grab a straw and drink from that. Liquids drawn into the mouth through straws bypass much of your teeth.

Don’t Let Those Sugars Stick Around!

We all like to indulge now and then, whether it is dessert or a few pieces of candy. The problem with sweets is that sugars have a tendency to stick to the surface of teeth. This is especially true when eating candy with a sticky texture. To wash away sugar, drink a glass of water after snacks.

Brush your teeth when you have the chance, but be sure you wait at least 30 minutes. Brushing too soon can rub sugar and acids against teeth enamel and cause scratches and damage. If a toothbrush is not available, some foods such as carrots, celery, and apples are dense enough to actually scrub teeth naturally as you eat them. Sugarless gum is another excellent option because it stimulates saliva to rinse your teeth similar to the effect of rinsing with water.

Timing Really is Everything

Another good tip is to eat sugary foods with a meal. When are eating a meal, the mouth produces higher levels of saliva as part of the digestive process. Sugar is less likely to remain in the mouth if it is combined with other food or washed away by saliva.

Try to make brushing your teeth one of the last things you do before going to bed. Also try to avoid eating before going to sleep so bacteria will not have plenty of time during the night to break down sugars and form plaque.

Cheese protects teeth from cavities

Milk gets all the credit for building strong teeth, but cheese is actually more effective when it comes to preventing cavities. It is rich in calcium just like milk, but it also contains other components that work to keep teeth strong and healthy.

Increasing pH levels

The pH level of the mouth is indicative of the risk for erosion. Low pH signifies an increase in acidity, which contributes to damage to the enamel and the formation of cavities. A higher pH means a less acidic environment and a lower chance of harm.

Participants in one study who consumed cheese showed a rise in oral pH levels. Those who consumed milk or yogurt showed no change in pH. Researchers in the study suggest that cheese stimulates saliva production, which washes away acids to produce a higher pH.

Providing strength and protection

Cheese also contains plenty of calcium, which adheres to the surface of teeth to fend off acids. Hard cheeses like cheddar contain more than soft varieties like feta. In addition to keeping acids from sticking to teeth, the compounds in cheese keep stains away. That means if you’re going to have a glass of red wine, it really is appropriate to pair it with some cheese. Not only will it make your teeth slightly more stain resistant, it will also neutralize the acids in the wine.

Casein phosphate is another powerful component of cheese. On top of keeping teeth strong, this compound protects enamel to keep it from eroding- a first step in the formation of cavities.

Put it into practice

The best part about these findings is the amount of cheese necessary to reap the benefits. Scientists say you only need about one-third of a slice of cheese. If you’re trying to cut down on the amount of dairy or fat you consume, rest assured that such a small serving of cheese can easily fit into your dietary plans. Try to take a few bites of the cheese while you’re eating and then finish the meal with it for maximum benefits. Add it to sandwiches and salads and pair it with your snacks to cut back on your risk of experiencing tooth decay.

Teeth Whitening Expectations

White teeth make us feel instantly more confident, which is why more and more people are looking in to teeth whitening to brighten up their smiles and improve their outlook. If you’re thinking about having your teeth whitened, it’s a good idea to be aware of the reasons that teeth become stained, the different types of whitening available and what types of results you can expect.

What causes teeth to darken?

A variety of factors affect the color of your teeth, but generally you can expect teeth to darken with age and/or in response to certain foods and beverages. As we grow older, the protective layer of enamel on the outside of our teeth gradually weakens and wears away, exposing the more porous and stain-prone material underneath. If your diet contains a lot of heavily staining foods, like black tea or coffee, you can expect this process to happen more quickly. Any food or drink that is high in acidity as well as dark in color tends to be more staining; the acids soften the enamel, allowing the dark pigments in the food to penetrate this weakened outer layer.

Tobacco is another big culprit when it comes to tooth staining; whether it’s smoked or chewed, tobacco use will continue to contribute to stains until you quit. Of course, nature plays a part in the color of your teeth as well- some people have naturally white teeth, even if their hygiene is less than perfect, while others who observe ideal brushing and flossing habits may be more prone to staining.

What Types of Teeth Whitening are Available?

For those with mild to moderate staining, home whitening kits can be successful. These are available at most drug stores and come in a wide variety of formulas such as gels, strips and trays. There are also a few different formulas available- mainly hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide – so if you get underwhelming results or experience irritation from one formula, you may want to try a different one after checking with your dentist. Home kits often need to be used consistently over a period of days or weeks to achieve results, and will generally result in no more than a few shades of lightening.

If your stains are more severe (if you want to whiten more than a few shades) you should consider making a trip to the dentist’s office. In-office bleaching is often more effective and works more quickly than a do-it-yourself kit. Your dentist will also offer multiple types of bleaching processes based on your needs. They may use a type of concentrated bleaching gel in trays, or a laser bleach system in which a special gel is applied to the teeth and then exposed to a laser which quickly lightens the color of the teeth. Whitening done by a dentist is likely to work much more quickly than a store-bought kit, and you can expect the results to be more dramatic.

What else should I keep in mind when deciding how to whiten?

Any bleaching process can leave your teeth temporarily sensitive, but if a certain process is extremely uncomfortable, stop using it immediately and let your dentist know before trying anything else. Also remember that blindingly white teeth aren’t natural-looking; you don’t need to keep bleaching and bleaching until your teeth are paper-white. Abnormally bright teeth are arguably just as distracting as stained teeth, so use good judgment and follow your dentist’s advice.