Improving Dental Health: How High-Tech X-Rays Can Help
Digital X-rays are faster and more efficient than traditional radiographs. First, an electronic sensor (instead of film) is placed in the patient’s mouth to capture the image. The digital image is then relayed to a computer, where it is available for viewing. The procedure is much faster than processing conventional film.
We can also store the digital images on the computer and compare them with previous or future images to see how your dental health is being maintained. Digital X-rays have many uses besides finding cavities. They also help look at the bone below the teeth to determine if the bone level of support is good. We can use the X-rays to check the placement of an implant, a titanium screw-like device that is inserted into the jaw bone so that an artificial tooth can be attached. Digital X-rays also help during root canals to see if the canal is completely cleaned during the procedure. Since the sensors are more sensitive to X-rays than film, the radiation dose is significantly reduced.
Better Bonding and Filling Materials
If you’ve chipped a tooth, you can have it fixed to look more natural than it would have in the past due to improvements in bonding material and bonding techniques. Today’s bonding material is a resin (plastic), which is shinier and longer lasting than the substances used in the past. Often, we place layers of resin on a tooth to bond and repair it. Because of the wider range of shades available, a better blend of the bonding material is achievable to match the tooth’s natural color. When a cavity needs to be filled with a restoration, we have abandoned amalgams for “tooth-colored” composite or porcelain fillings, which look more natural. These newer resin fillings also have no metal and no mercury.
Better Dental Implants
Implants to replace lost teeth are now more common than in years past. First, a titanium implant or screw-like device is inserted to serve as a replacement root, fusing with the jaw-bone and protruding above the gum line. An abutment covers the protruding part and a crown is placed over that. In the past, implants often failed. Now, the typical life of an implant is about 15 years or longer. Approximately 95% of implants today are successful, according to the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.
New Gum Disease Treatments for Better Dental Health
When the supporting tissue and bone around your teeth doesn’t fit snugly, “pockets” form in the gums. Bacteria then invade these pockets, increasing bone destruction and tooth loss. A variety of treatments can help reverse the damage. They range from cleaning the root surfaces to remove plaque and tartar to more extreme measures such as gum surgery to reduce the pockets. In recent years, the focus of gum disease treatment has expanded beyond reducing the pockets and removing the bacteria to include regenerative procedures. For instance, membranes, bone grafts, or proteins that stimulate tissue growth can be used to help regenerate bone and tissue to combat the gum disease.