OK, that’s a little tricky. Certainly my wonderful staff are my favorites and I could not imagine working without them.
But, of all of the equipment, gadgets and toys that we have here in the office the one that I would hate to work without would easily be my Digital Radiography system. They are faster safer and more detailed and are critically important in providing the best dentistry.
The speed of Digital X-Rays allows us to trim at least a half of an hour off of an typical Root Canal procedure.
Everyone can appreciate the value in being able to see the image up on a large TV instead of squinting at a small film. This makes it much easier for patients to understand exactly what’s going on in their teeth.
Routine radiographs are the cornerstone in to performing the most painless, conservative and minimally invasive dentistry.
About 35% of the cavities I diagnose are directly and solely from seeing them on a radiograph. If we didn’t pick them up on a radiograph they may be fatally large by the time they show themselves in the mouth upon an exam.
Now, not all cavities and problems have radiographic presences. You can even have a very large cavity that is either under a crown or filling or very generalized and diffuse and is virtually unrecognizable, but they are very few.
What about the safety of dental X-Rays?
From the time I was a kid to the time I stopped using film to take X-Rays there was about a 75% reduction in the amount of exposure needed for each film.
With digital systems we are using up to 90% less exposure than even the fastest of film.
Dental images need to penetrate so few tissues that they are in a completely different category from every other type of radiographic examination. The dental machines focus the beam so tightly virtually eliminating any scatter.
How often should you have them taken?
A general rule is for check-up bite-wings to be taken once a year. In some people that might not be often enough if they keep developing cavities. I’ve seen cavities with huge radiographic presences in as little as 6 months after having taken an image that doesn’t show it at all!
Other patients that are not having problems with cavities might be OK with going a couple years without having them The problem is that YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN THOSE COUPLE YEARS ARE!!!
I’ve unfortunately had a few patients that have made it into their 40’s without having a single cavity, get complacent and then have to get root canals, crowns, toothaches and extractions as a result of cavities that were undiagnosed.
Part of the basic initial exam for all patients is a Full Mouth Series of X-Rays.
These show the whole length of the tooth in the bone and are part of a full series (FMX) that we take anywhere from every 3 years (in patients with periodontal disease and other problems) to 8 years.
We always start with these for all of our new patients unless they have had an FMX recently. Pretty standard in dentistry.
The FMX is invaluable in diagnosing periodontal and other problems.
Believe it or not, about 10% of the time we take an FMX we find evidence of a tooth that is dead and infected. These are teeth in which patients may have never have felt any pain or noticed to have any problems. These teeth are spewing their bacteria locally and systemically.
This is where you hear about the reports of people with dental infections are 4-5 times more likely to suffer serious problems like stokes and other cardiovascular problems.
They are also the kind of problems that could cause infection somewhere else in your body like around a prosthetic joint or a heart valve.
If you have an infected upper tooth it will almost always spread into your sinuses!!!
So, diagnostic X-Rays can help save you a lot of problems down the road. They are well worth the few seconds of having that sensor thingy in your mouth to help avoid bigger problems.
The other large benefit of having routine X-Rays is that we have a baseline to compare to if you ever present with a problem.
Now you can see why Digital X-Rays is my favorite tech piece in the office.
If you know someone that would like the benefits of seeing their X-Rays up on a large screen and someone who will spend the time explaining it to them, you now know where to send them! If you have any questions or are simply around the area would like to schedule a complimentary exam with “The Best Dentist on the Main Line” for the last 10 years (as reported by the Main Line Times), give us a call at 610-525-5497. Dillon Family Dentistry is here for you!!