Are dental radiographs safe?
The amount of radiation used to obtain radiographs is very small. Bitewings, for example,expose the patient to .005 mSv (millisieverts). Compare that to the standard chest xray, at .1mSv, and the standard CT scan at 10 mSv. On average, people in the United States are exposed to 3.2 mSv from natural sources of radiation in the environment. You will be draped with a protective lead shield prior to any exposure. If you are pregnant, we will first evaluate if x-rays are necessary and double-shield when appropriate.
Why is fluoride so important?
When a tooth decays, the hard outer surface called enamel goes through a process of demineralization, where acidic plaque dissolves and pulls out the calcium and phosphate minerals that otherwise makes the enamel strong. However, when the acid neutralizes, the process of remineralization can occur, where the minerals return to the enamel surface. Fluoride that is introduced into the environment creates a strong scaffolding for the enamel crystals to be laid back down during remineralization. Also an added benefit, fluoride helps to reduce the ability of the plaque bacteria to produce acid. Fluoride is present in many sources, such as your drinking water, toothpastes, mouthwashes, certain foods, and as a topical treatment at your dental office.
I am pregnant. Do I still need to come to the dentist for check-ups?
Absolutely! During pregnancy, your increased levels of progesterone may cause your gums to become very inflamed, a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. Gum inflammation appears between the second and eighth months of pregnancy, and during this time, your gums may appear more red and may bleed a little while brushing. It is important during your pregnancy to maintain regular check-ups and cleanings with your dentist and follow good oral hygiene habits at home- brushing twice daily with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, flossing and antimicrobial mouthrinse. In the event your dentist needs to provide treatment in addition to your cleanings, medical clearance from your OB/GYN will be necessary to ensure the safety of you and your baby.
Should I have my silver fillings replaced?
Not necessarily. Silver fillings, or amalgams, are known for their durability and wearability. Concerns have continuously been raised regarding the mercury in these amalgams. Numerous studies have researched the risks associated with the mercury in these fillings, but nothing substantial has been proven to show them to be detrimental to your health. The ideal time to replace silver fillings is when there is visible breakdown and leakage leading to new decay surrounding and underneath the fillings. If the filling is otherwise strong and functional, there is no reason to replace them.
When should my child first see the dentist?
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should visit the dentist when their first tooth comes in, usually between 6 and 12 months of age. Although this age seems very young, dental problems such as baby bottle tooth decay are common. Early examination and preventive care establishes a comfortable dental home for your child and sets the proper path for their happy and healthy smile. It is important to understand how diet can impact oral health as new foods are being introduced outside of breast-milk
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