Understanding Dental X-Rays

male dentist examining x-rayWhen you come to your appointments at our dental office in Sacramento, there’s a good chance we may recommend taking some x-rays of your mouth. And for good reason. Dental x-rays are critical in helping us detect a number of potential oral health problems early, often making treatment easier and more affordable. What our patients may not know is there are various types of dental x-rays that are appropriate to help diagnose different issues. In this blog, we cover some of the most common types of dental x-rays and why dentists use them.

Two Main Categories of X-Rays

When referring to dental x-rays, or radiographs, we are either referencing intraoral x-rays or extraoral x-rays. Extraoral x-rays take a view of the entire mouth structure, including the teeth, jaw, and skull while intraoral x-rays are more about the details of each tooth. Each category of x-ray is beneficial in its own way, depending on what your dentist in Sacramento is looking for.

Intraoral X-Rays

Since intraoral x-rays show such a detailed view of the teeth, they’re great at helping dentists identify specific problems that otherwise would be undetectable including:

The most common type of x-rays taken at most dental offices fall into the intraoral category and are known as bitewing x-rays. Bitewings x-rays are used so frequently because they can successfully detect even the tiniest cavity that the naked eye wouldn’t be able to see. When caught early, cavities are much easier to treat.

Extraoral X-Rays

The images produced from extraoral x-rays often show the bigger picture and look at the entire anatomy of the mouth and skull. Extraoral x-rays can help examine:

  • Tooth Growth & Development
  • The Relationship Between the Teeth & Jaw
  • Impacted Teeth

If you need an extraoral x-rays, you’ll most likely have a panoramic x-ray taken. The photos from a panoramic x-ray show the entire mouth and are helpful in diagnosing problems with your jaw joint (TMJ), developing wisdom teeth, or even a tumor.

Dental x-rays are incredibly safe as they emit a low amount of radiation. But that doesn’t mean you should go crazy and get as many as possible. How often you should get dental x-rays taken depends on your age and your oral health. If you’re at higher risk for decay, our Sacramento dental office may recommend x-rays at each visit twice a year. If not, we may only suggest them once a year. Either way, having x-rays of your mouth completed regularly will help keep your smile healthy.

All About Oral Cancer

oral cancer riskApril is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and our dental office in Sacramento thought we should dedicate a blog this month to help educate our patients and community on the prevalence of oral cancer in America, what increases someone’s likelihood of developing the disease, and how to spot signs of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer Statistics

Like any other cancer, oral cancer is a complicated disease that takes the lives of many individuals. While scientists continue researching cures and treatments are always improving, the data surrounding the oral cancer epidemic is still scary.

  • According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, nearly 50,000 Americans will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer in 2017.
  • Of those, only a little over half are expected to live longer than 5 years.
  • This year alone, oral cancer will kill one person every hour of every day.
  • Across the globe, an estimated 450,000 oral cancer diagnoses are made each year.

Oral Cancer Risks

While anyone can develop oral cancer, there are several factors that increase the likelihood of diagnosis. Of these, there are few we can control and others we can’t.

  • The top risk factor is tobacco use. An estimated 80% of oral cancer patients are, or have been, tobacco users.
  • As we get older, our risk of oral cancer increases. The majority of oral cancer patients are over the age of 55.
  • Gender can also play a role. Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women.
  • Drinking alcohol heavily also increases your risk.   

Oral Cancer Symptoms

  • Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
  • Changes in voice
  • A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away after two weeks
  • A lump inside the mouth or neck
  • Chronic bad breath

Signs of oral cancer can be similar to other non-serious oral health issues. If you notice any of the symptoms above, we strongly encourage you to call your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can. Early detection of oral cancer greatly increases the chance for successful treatment. This is also one reason why you should see your dentist at least every six months.

At our Sacramento dental office, we care about keeping our neighbors healthy. If there are any questions we can answer, or if you’re looking for advice on oral cancer treatment, give us a call.

In Case of a Dental Emergency, Read This Blog

dental emergencyThe last thing anyone ever wants to deal with is a dental emergency. Dental emergencies, like any type of unexpected issue, can be scary, painful, and even confusing as to how to handle them. At our dental office in Sacramento, we want to help our patients and neighbors understand different types of dental emergencies and what to do if any happen to them.

Common Dental Emergencies & What to Do

Before we talk about what you can do at home in case of a dental emergency, there’s one thing you should always do first. If you’re experiencing a dental emergency, call your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can.

If you can’t get in to see your dentist immediately, try some of the tips to relieve some of the most common dental emergencies:

  • Knocked Out Tooth – A knocked out tooth has a higher chance of being saved if it’s put back into the socket within an hour, so it’s important to act as quickly as you can. After you find the tooth, only touch the crown (the white part). Contact with the roots can cause even more damage. Try putting it back into the socket without using too much force. If you can’t, put the tooth in milk or store it under your tongue with some spit and get to a dentist.
  • Lost Filling – Losing a filling can be painful and the best thing you can do is get something into the hole. Head to a drugstore to buy over-the-counter dental cement and pack the area where the filling used to be. If you can’t find dental cement, sugarless gum is another temporary option. Whatever you do, don’t use anything with sugar, it’ll make the pain worse.
  • Chipped or Broken Tooth – Find any piece of the tooth that you can and rinse them with water. You should also give your mouth a good rinse as well. Stop any bleeding by applying pressure with a piece of gauze and use a cold compress to reduce pain.

Avoid a Problem

The best way to avoid a problem is to prevent a problem. How? We’re glad you asked! First, make sure you’re maintaining regular visits with your dentist in Sacramento at least twice a year. Regular appointments can help catch any problems before they become an annoying, and possibly painful, emergency. Next, be aware of things that may lead to an issue. For example, popcorn, sticky foods, and hard, crunchy snacks are notorious culprits of dental emergencies. Avoiding them can reduce your risk of a dental problem.

 
If you’re looking for a new dentist, are experiencing a dental emergency, or are new to the area, we welcome you to make an appointment at our Sacramento dental office. We’re here to keep smiles healthy and help those experiencing an emergency get relief.

 

The Oral Health and Heart Health Connection

heart healthOur Sacramento dental office’s philosophy of patient care revolves around keeping our patients healthy, and not just in their mouths. Many whole-body concerns are associated with oral health problems, including heart disease. This February, in celebration of Heart Health Month, we’d like to educate our patients on the oral health and heart health connection and how keeping your mouth healthy can protect your entire wellbeing.

Gum Disease and Its Link to Heart Disease

One of the main areas we’re going to explore is how gum disease can affect someone’s heart health. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection in your gums caused by a buildup of plaque on your teeth. When there’s an infection in your mouth, it can very easily be transferred into your bloodstream. If this occurs, your body produces more C-reactive protein (CRP), which is one of the known indicators of cardiovascular disease. Elevated levels of CRP can lead to some serious health issues including:

  • inflamed arteries
  • blood clots
  • heart attacks
  • strokes

Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease is treatable, and treatment is easier and more successful if it’s caught early. If you notice any of the signs below, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Sacramento as soon as you can.

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Puffy, tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Teeth that feel loose

Keep Your Mouth Healthy

There are things you can do to keep your mouth and gums free of disease. We recommended maintaining appointments at our dental office in Sacramento at least twice a year. But that’s not all. It’s also important for you to follow a proper at-home oral health care routine at home. Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day, everyday.  

If you notice any signs of gum disease, or if you’re looking for a new dentist, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today. After all, your dentist is an important member of your health care team and can protect your body from serious diseases, like heart disease.

Top 3 Explanations to Nighttime Tongue Biting

biting tongueMany people bite their tongue while talking, chewing, or sneezing. It’s an incredibly common occurrence, although very painful. But did you know that people can bite their tongue in their sleep and not even know it until the next day? At our Sacramento dental office, we want our patients to know that nighttime tongue biting is quite common, and it may actually be a sign of something serious.

Seizures at Night

The symptoms of seizures include tensing of muscles, uncontrollable twitching, and yes, tongue biting. However, seizures aren’t necessarily only experienced during the day. In fact, someone can have no symptoms of seizures while awake and only get them while sleeping. These are called nocturnal seizures, and may be a reason of nighttime tongue biting. Treatment of nocturnal seizures usually requires medication.

Rhythmic Movement Disorder

Rhythmic movement disorder is used to describe the action of head banging and body rocking in children. These movements are typically noticed before naptime or bedtime. Due to the sudden jerks in the head and neck area, it’s common for tongue biting to come along with rhythmic movement disorder. Many times children will outgrow the disorder, but medication may be recommended.

Grinding Your Teeth

Bruxism, the technical term for teeth grinding, can be a major problem. People who grind their teeth have a habit, although sometimes subconsciously, of clenching their jaw or fiercing rubbing their top teeth against their bottom teeth. When this happens at night, the tongue can get in the way. Bruxism can also be detrimental to overall dental health and increases the chance of broken or chipped teeth. To treat it, your dentist in Sacramento will probably recommend a night guard.  

You shouldn’t have to live with the pain and nuisance of nighttime tongue biting. We welcome you to schedule an appointment at our dental office in Sacramento. We’ll work with you to see if teeth grinding may be causing your problem. If it’s not, we strongly recommend seeing your physician.