Q&A

pic13How safe are X-rays taken at the dentist?

Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.

Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to the low radiation levels emitted by dental X-rays. The use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation. In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for accuracy and safety regularly.

 

How effective are whitening toothpastes?

All toothpastes, due to the mild abrasives in them, help remove surface stains to some extent. Whitening toothpastes do not contain bleach, therefore can help remove surface stains only. Over-the-counter and professional whitening toothpastes contain hydrogen peroxide (a bleaching agent) that helps remove stains at a deeper level, on the tooth surface as well as stains deep in the tooth.  However, none of the store bought whitening toothpastes can come close to producing the bleaching effect you get from your dentist's office through chair-side bleaching or power bleaching. Whitening toothpastes can lighten your tooth's color by about one shade. In contrast, light-activated whitening conducted in your dentist's office can make your teeth three to eight shades lighter.

What should I do about fearing the dentist?

If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Some studies indicate that around 8%-15% of people fear going to the dentist.  To overcome this problem, the first thing you should do is talk to  your dentist.  Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.

The good news is that today there are a number of strategies that can be used to help reduce fear, anxiety, and pain at the dentist. These strategies can include the use of medications (such as  sedatives or anesthesia). Some dentists opt to use lasers instead of the traditional drill to perform certain procedures; the application of a variety of mind/body pain and anxiety-reducing techniques can also be used, (such as guided visualization, deep breathing, acupuncture) and other mental health techniques.  The key, is to voice your fears, and from there the problem can be addressed and solved.

 

What are dental sealants?

Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth; usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) . These are used to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and groves of the teeth, in this way forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.

Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for many years, but they need to be checked regularly with your dentist, to ensure they are not chipped or too worn out.