Posts for tag: cavities

What are bitewing xrays?

Bitewings are also known as “cavity detection” xrays and are often times conducted once a year. The xrays specifically focus on looking at the chewing (“occlusal”) surfaces as well as the area in between teeth surfaces(“interproximal”). They are done at least once a year as cavities can develop very rapidly on baby teeth. The cavities detected on xrays are often times not able to be seen during a physical exam by a dentist therefore are very important!

Have you had  a recent exam/checkup by your dentist?

Schedule with us checkups are just as important as annual physicals! Routine examinations(as well as xrays) can help catch problems prior to them causing castrastrophic situations. The most common example is identifying cavities on xrays between teeth that are not symptomatic. Fixing them will prevent them from getting deeper and causing more involved procedures such as root canals and crowns!

Schedule today and get your dental physical!!

True or False?

    Good oral hygiene prevents cavities. TRUE. (Of course.) As simple as this is, regular brushing and flossing is the best way you can prevent cavities. Brushing and flossing after every meal for 2-3 minutes will help prevent cavities by removing food particles that normally create an environment for bacteria in your mouth to cause cavities.

    HOWEVER, while good hygiene does help prevent cavities, the fact is that some people are more susceptible to cavities(and gum disease) in spite of the person's best efforts. There are genetic factors, medical history factors and prescription factors that will contribute to having problems.

True or False?

      If your tooth is chipped tooth, it is likely because there is tooth decay present. True and False. While tooth decay(cavities) are the most common reason for a chipped tooth, there are many other ways a tooth can chip or crack.
     A tooth is more susceptible to fracture regardless of decay if: large filling already present, parafunctional habits exist, patient is a grinder, tooth has been fixed multiple times, and malalignment of the teeth. Tooth decay will either exacerbate a preexisting condition or can alone cause fracture of a tooth.

 True or False?

     If a tooth is chipped but there is no cavity, then I should not be concerned. Depends. Assuming your hygiene is good, you do not grind your teeth and you are getting regular checkups, your risk for problems is decreased. The biggest concern is that bacteria can flourish around fractured areas if they are not kept clean and cause bigger problems.
 True or False?

     A filling should last forever and never need replacement. False. Most fillings at some point require replacement or maintenance to prevent further problems. Good hygiene can certainly offset the need for replacing a filling but much like everything else in life, fillings will likely need to be replacement for reasons such as new decay, leakage, chipping due to grinding forces.

 True or False?

     All silver filling should be replaced with tooth colored fillings. Absolutely false. If you know the expression "If its not broke, don't fix it", then you know my practice philosophy. Replacing a filling that has no issues can potentially create new issues. So when would we replace a filling? When tooth decay is present, filling is leaking, filling is chipped and/or patient is having symptoms.

Question: How are cavities detected by a dentist?

Answer: There are multiple ways a dentist can screen for and detect cavities or tooth decay:


1. Visual- The dentist looks for unusual discolorations, stains and dark spots found along different surfaces of the tooth. The most obvious occur along the biting surfaces of the teeth and are found more commonly on the molars.


2. Feel- The dentist uses an instrument called an "explorer" trying to feel for "stickiness" or catches along the surface of the tooth. The stickiness is often found along the grooves and fissures of the tooth and represents an area where the enamel coating of the tooth has been compromised.


3. Xrays- Digital xrays allow a dentist to see cavities not only along the biting surfaces but the flossing surfaces between the teeth. Not only do xrays provide insight to the presence or absence of a cavity, but it can convey the extent or depth of the cavity. A dentist can use xrays to determine how deep the cavity is and if there is nerve involvement.


4. Laser- Using a device called a "Diagnodent", a dentist can use a special laser that measure the damage that is left behind as a result of cavity or tooth decay. While this is not a primary means of detection, it will typically reinforce the presence of absence of a cavity if there is suspicion.


So the next question is, if there are multiple ways a cavity can be detected, what is the best way?


While there are many ways to detect tooth decay, one way is not more advantageous than the other. Simply put, the dentist should use as many ways as possible to help assess. All four ways can give the dentist tremendous insight into cavity assessment and provide the patient confidence that nothing was missed during an exam!

Question: Can you get a cavity around a crown?


Answer: Yes even though the tooth is "covered" by a crown, it can still get a cavity. You can get a cavity around a crown much like you can around a filling. The reason is that the interface between the crown and the tooth, which dentists refer to as "margins" has potential to get decay, or collect food. While crowns do minimize the tooth fracturing and help decrease the chances of getting another cavity, decay can still form around the edges of the crown right around the gum line. Hygiene becomes especially important for brushing and flossing to prevent decay from developing.