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Dental Radiology: Purpose and Precautions

X-rays might sound a little extreme for the dentist, but that’s not necessarily the case. From early detection of cavities, decay, gingivitis, and even oral cancers, X-rays are an excellent tool for your dentist to get the full picture of your teeth, gums, and jaw. 

Who needs dental X-Rays?

Everyone needs dental x-rays. X-rays are typically done as soon as you become a patient at a new dental practice to help your new dentist become better acquainted with your current dental health. After your initial exams, x-rays become an annual part of your regular oral exams. Children usually require x-rays more frequently than adults because their jaws and teeth are still  developing to maturity.

Dentists especially need x-rays to perform their job thoroughly. Although their super dentist eyes can spot damage or decay on the surface of teeth and gums from miles away, neither Dr. Brunacini nor Dr. Karagiorgos have x-ray vision! They need a little bit of help to see inside your teeth, gums, and jaw bones to give you the best care possible.

Radiology Precautions

The radiation levels used during dental x-rays are so low that they are completely safe. However, to cover all of the bases, you will be given a lead bib or apron to wear while your x-rays are taken. Although it might not be very stylish, the lead bib or apron acts as a precautionary shield to your vital organs so they can avoid any unnecessary exposure to radiation. 

If you are pregnant or believe that you might be pregnant, you should not have any x-rays done. Please let your hygienist and dentist know if you think or know that you are expecting! 

Types of X-Rays

X-rays images are not only helpful to your dentist–they’re fun to look at. There are four major types of dental x-rays that provide a different map of your mouth:

1. Bitewing: For a bitewing x-ray, the hygienist will have you bite down on a special piece of paper during the x-ray. The resulting image will show how well the crowns of your teeth match when you bite down.   

2. Occlusal: Occlusal x-rays examine your bite–how well your bottom and top teeth line up as well as the structure of your jaw. They also take a close look at the roof and floor of your mouth.

3. Panoramic: This is an exciting x-ray! For a panoramic view, the x-ray machine will rotate slowly around your head to give the dentist a comprehensive view of your entire oral and nasal cavities. 

Three Dimensional Scans take panoramic excitement to new levels. The latest development in dental technology is the CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) 3D scan. The process of a 3D  is very similar to that of a panoramic: the machine rotates slowly around your head, capturing images of your skull. Instead of traditional x-rays, the CBCT scan uses cone beams (named for their conical shape) to create a 3D model of your entire jaw structure. Like any three dimensional object, the CBCT scan can be rotated and viewed from any angle.

4. Periapical: This type of x-ray gives a big picture of a small surface area. Periapical images zoom in on one or two teeth to show the bone and gum in great detail.

Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we strive to provide our patients the most comprehensive dental care available. X-rays are a valuable tool for our dentists, hygienists and patients, giving us an in-depth look at teeth, gums, jaw bones and nasal cavities. Regular x-rays allow dentists to predict–and address–oral issues before they become serious complications.

If you have any questions about our dental x-ray procedure or the images themselves, just ask. Dr. Brunacini, Dr. Karagiorgos, and our fabulous hygienist team will be more than happy to answer all of your questions so that you can be just as excited about your x-rays as we are. To schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900.    

 

My Teeth are Sealed: An Interview with Dr. Karagiorgos

Have dental sealants recently been recommended to you or your child? Have you always wondered what dental sealants are, and how they are beneficial to teeth? Falmouth Dental Arts wants to answer all of your tooth-related questions so that you can feel confident and informed when you visit our office! Dr. Karagiorgos took some time to answer basic questions about dental sealants and explain the sealant process.

1. What are sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: Sealants are a dental material which fills in deep grooves in a tooth’s surface to minimize the opportunity for cavities to develop. 

2. Why should patients consider getting sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: The surfaces of the teeth toward the backs of our mouths have special surfaces with lots of small grooves, called pits and fissures. Pits and fissures help us grip food while we break it down when we chew. The size and depth of pits and fissures are different for everybody. However, deeper grooves often trap food particles and can promote the presence of bacterial film. This puts people with deep grooves at particular risk for cavities. 

As part of a comprehensive oral health approach, filling these deeper surfaces with a dental material such as sealants can help prevent cavities.

3. At what age do patients need sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: Because the likelihood of developing decay is highest for newly-erupted premolars and molars, children and teenagers are the ideal candidates for sealants. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars would also benefit from sealants. 

While some children would benefit from sealants on their baby teeth, parents should seriously consider sealants for children on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. This typically starts around age six. The sooner the sealants can be applied to teeth, the sooner they can start protecting cavity-prone molars. 

4. What is the process of applying sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: Applying sealants is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for the dentist or hygienist to seal each tooth. Here are the five steps: 

  1. First, the teeth are thoroughly cleaned. 
  2. After cleaning, each tooth is dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.
  3. The dentist or hygienist will put a gel on the chewing surface of the teeth which will roughen up the tooth’s enamel, helping the sealant bond to the teeth.
  4. The teeth are rinsed and dried. 
  5. The dentist or hygienist paints the sealant onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden faster. 

5. Does it hurt to get sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: No, not at all. Because all of the work is above the gum-line on the chewing surface of the teeth, patients don’t need to be numbed. This makes the sealant process fast, easy, and pain-free.

 

6. Is it fun to apply sealants? 

Dr. Karagiorgos: Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we promote great oral health habits for patients of all ages. Our goal is to make coming to the dentist feel like you’re visiting a friend, while having a little dentistry done on the side! From routine check-ups to sealant application, we love our jobs and hope that our patients feel cared for when they’re here. We look forward to making your visit to the dentist as easy, painless, convenient–and of course as fun–as it can be. If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900 

Images courtesy of Children’s Dental Funzone

 

Best Foods for Post-Oral Procedures

Do you or a family member have an oral procedure scheduled in the near future? Whether it’s the application of braces on your high-schooler, a root canal for your spouse, or teeth whitening for yourself, many oral procedures require some sort of specialized diet in the hours or days afterwards. The team at Falmouth Dental Arts breaks down the dos and don’ts of post-oral procedure diets, so you can make your grocery list with ease. Let’s break down the best foods to eat after dental surgery. 

For surgeries: 

  • Do enjoy soft, easy-to-chew or no-chew foods! 
    • Smoothies and shakes (made with your favorite fruits and veggies!)
    • Soups (smooth varieties such as tomato, clear broth, or cream soups)
    • Oatmeal, mashed potatoes
    • Yogurt, ice cream, or pudding
    • Applesauce
    • Avocado
    • Bananas or other very soft fruit (mash it up!)
    • Hummus
    • Peanut butter
    • Soft scrambled eggs
    • Tofu
  • Don’t eat any spicy, chewy, crunchy, or crusty foods. The list above may look a bit bland, but sticking to it will help speed up your healing process and avoid any post-surgery complications!.
  • Keep in Mind: TEMPERATURE! Your mouth is especially sensitive after an oral procedure, so avoid foods or drinks that are too hot or too cold. Allow everything to come to a nice room-temperature before consumption. 

For teeth whitening: 

  • Do stick to the White Diet for 24 Hours! 
    • Chicken or white fish
    • Cauliflower
    • White pasta and rice
    • White cheeses
    • Bananas
    • White yogurts
    • Clear beverages
    • White toothpastes
    • Clear mouthwash
  • Don’t eat any dark foods or drinks such as red sauces, red meat, chocolate, tea, coffee, or any type of alcohol or fruit juice.

 

  • Keep in Mind: THE STAIN TEST! If a food would leave a mark or stain on a white t-shirt, it would leave a stain on your new pearly whites! Avoid it! 

For all procedures: 

  • Keep in Mind: BALANCED NUTRITION! No matter how limited these lists appear, each one has room for proteins, vegetables, and fruits, as well as healthy carbohydrates and fats. Make sure to build a healthy menu within your guidelines. Your body needs good nutrition to heal quickly and properly. You’ll be back to chewy, crunchy foods in no time!  
  • Keep in Mind: Consumption of alcohol. Many people wonder if it is safe to consume alcohol after dental surgery. You should wait at least 24 hours before drinking any sort of alcoholic beverage. 

 

Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we care about your mouth pre-procedure, in-procedure, and post-procedure! If you have specific dietary restrictions, needs, questions, or concerns, just talk to Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos. They will be happy to give their food recommendations, specifically tailored to you and your particular procedure. If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900

Help! I Need to Choose a Toothpaste!

Fluoride and flavors and flip-caps oh my! If you’re staring down the selection of toothpastes and wishing there was a Yellow Brick Road leading to the perfect one, you’re not alone. Luckily, your friends at Falmouth Dental Arts are here to help!

First and foremost, as you’re examining the tube of toothpaste, keep your eye out for two key details: the ADA seal of approval and fluoride content. The American Dental Association tests the safety and effectiveness of toothpastes on the market, and gives its seal to those pastes which pass the test with flying colors. Varieties without the ADA seal either have not been tested, or have not passed the ADA tests. Either way, choosing a product without the seal is a gamble for your teeth. Take the safe bet, and look for the ADA seal. 

Most toothpastes contain fluoride, a chemical compound with a variety of uses. In the dental realm, fluoride protects your teeth from decay by reinforcing your enamel. Fluoride has been used as an active ingredient in toothpaste for over a century, and has been introduced into a majority of city water supplies to improve oral health in the community. In recent years, fluoride has become a bit of a hot topic because it is toxic when ingested in large doses. Additionally, high levels of fluoride can lead to fluorosis: a discoloring of the teeth. However, because over-the-counter pastes contain such trace amounts of fluoride that fluorosis and toxicity are not of concern, Falmouth Dental Arts recommends fluoridated toothpastes. 

Dr. Karagiorgos states that “adding fluoride to our water supply has been statistically significant to help to improve oral health in at-risk communities. However, at Falmouth Dental Arts, we believe in a patient’s freedom to choose what goes into their bodies, and whether fluoride is right for them as an individual.”

“Proper oral health maintenance including brushing with any sort of paste, is the best method of reducing the risk of dental decay. Fluoride is not a nutrient, and our bodies have no need for it metabolically. It is very good at doing is killing the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Using it appropriately, in small topical doses such as those found in ADA approved toothpastes and mouthwashes can help to prevent decay, and also to reverse small amounts of acid damage. Acid damage can occur from cavity causing bacteria, acid erosion from reflux or consuming acidic foods.”

Beyond the ADA seal and fluoride content, your selection of toothpaste is entirely up to you! As you narrow down your choice, here are a few additional factors to consider: 

1.  Sensitivity: most toothpaste brands have a line specifically designed to address tooth and gum sensitivity. Some brands are entirely devoted to helping soothe sensitive teeth. Either way, most over-the-counter sensitivity pastes deliver on their promises to pacify any pain. If your sensitive teeth aren’t responding to an OTC sensitive-specific paste, talk to Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos about prescription strength options. 

2. Whitening: Who doesn’t want a brighter, whiter smile? Many toothpastes claiming to possess whitening powers typically do address basic surface stains. However, the different ingredients in whitening toothpastes can cause dental sensitivity over time. Additionally, any sort of abrasive ingredient advertised to whiten your teeth (such as activated charcoal, natural exfoliants, or microbeads) can erode your tooth enamel. Avoid abrasive materials in your toothpaste, and always keep smart brushing techniques in mind. If you’re looking for more intensive whitening, talk to Dr. Brunacini about in-office and at-home options at your next appointment!

3. Options for Kids: For brand new brushers, look for a training toothpaste which does not contain fluoride. When your child understands that toothpaste should be spit out and not swallowed, you can make the switch to a fluoride paste. Fun toothpaste flavors can be helpful if you’re trying  to make brushing fun–which goes for children and adults alike!

At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do for your teeth is to brush them properly twice a day! What you use to brush helps or hurts your effectiveness as a brusher, so you do want to choose your tools and pastes with care. Look for a toothpaste stamped with the American Dental Association’s seal of approval. Feel free to choose a toothpaste with a fun flavor and ingredients to address sensitivity or whitening concerns–just avoid any ingredients that might erode your tooth enamel. 

If you have questions about proper brushing techniques, or want to have Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos put their stamp of approval on your toothpaste–just ask them at your next dental exam and cleaning! If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900

Five Tips for a Healthy Halloween

Ah, Halloween! Little ghouls and goblins are grinning at the prospect of a bag full of candy…while those poor souls responsible for their young fangs find nothing more frightening than impending pounds of sugar. Don’t let ghosts of cavities haunt you this year! The staff at Falmouth Dental Arts is here to help with Five Tips for a Tooth-Happy Halloween. 

 

1.  Who you gonna call? CandyBusters!  Candy = Sugar = Cavities. We’re all familiar with this equation! This year, consider removing the first variable and revamping your Halloween treat bowl to include a healthier selection. Sugar-free gum, individually-wrapped snack packages of fruits and veggies, cheese sticks, or individual on-the-go yogurt tubes are all fun, unexpected, and tooth-friendly pumpkin-fillers!

2. Stickier is Scarier. Even if you are handing out healthy Halloween snacks, it’s almost inevitable that you and your children will encounter candy this time of year. When choosing which sweets to indulge in, consider texture. Candies such as gummies or taffies adhere to the surface of your teeth with scary sticking power! This residue is a feast for the bad bacteria that cause cavities. Cut down on bacteria by choosing granular goodies like chocolate, which dissolve quickly from the tooth’s surface. 

 

3. Let’s Do the Time Warp! It’s enjoyable to savor your sweets, but the odds of developing a cavity increase the longer that a sugary substance is in your mouth. Hard candies like lollipops or suckers are prolonged sugar bombs for your teeth, causing massive dental destruction! Trading hard candies out for sweets such as chocolate limits sugar exposure and is a safer bet for your bite. 

4. Dessert Thriller By strategically timing your candy consumption to align with mealtimes, you’re not only getting a delicious dessert–you’re doing right by your teeth! As we learned in September’s blog post, saliva production increases when you eat, which allows for food residue and bacteria to be naturally washed away with every swallow. Your saliva production is in overdrive during mealtimes, which makes it primetime to pop in a few tasty treats for dessert. Don’t forget to sip water throughout your meal to assist your saliva in cleaning out your mouth. You’ll get the sweet ending your meal deserves, and your teeth will thank you! 

 

5. Brush Away the Boogey Man No matter how or when you consume your Halloween treats, don’t forget to brush twice a day (or more, should you sneak some candy in-between meal times)! Looking to make your daily dental regiment a little spookier this time of year? Turn up this kid-friendly Halloween playlist while you brush!

 

Does your little vampire have an appointment for their fangs with us on Thursday, October 31st? Kids are welcome to come to Halloween appointments in costume. If you have any questions, or to schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900