How Much Radiation Do you Get from X-rays? Do I Need Them?

In a recent study published in the Cancer Journal for Clinicians, dental X-rays were linked with an increased risk of developing meningioma, the most common type of brain tumor. We understand that patients may be alarmed by such findings. What wasn’t emphasized in the study was that many participants in the study received their X-rays many years ago when radiation exposure was much higher than what is used today.

Gateway Oaks Family Dentistry would like to stress the importance of getting their X-rays taken. X-rays are needed because they let the dentist to see small cavities that are developing in between the teeth and  stop them before they become bigger and more costly problems.

Additionally, x-rays allow the dentist to examine the mandible and maxilla for any unusual growths or abnormalities. They  can also expose hidden dental decay, locate tarter build-up, identifying bone loss, showing impacted or extra teeth, which is very beneficial for the dentist.

Unlike other x-rays on other parts of the body, dental X-rays are very targeted to a small part of the body. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), radiation associated with dentistry represents a minor contribution to the total exposure from all sources (about 0.2 percent). You actually get more radiation why you are exposed to the sun or are flying in an airplane.

How often X-rays should be taken depends on your present oral health, age, and your risk for disease. Normally, Full Mouth X-Rays are taken if you are a new patient and consists of a series of dental x-rays angled to show all the teeth, the surrounding bone and other structures. It is a combination of 14 or more general x-rays  and 4 bite-wing x-rays to film the back teeth. Receiving Full Mouth X-Rays by the dentist ensures a complete examination of the health of your teeth. These type of X-rays are recommended every three to five years.

It is recommended by the ADA to get check-up X-rays during your bi-annual dental visits. As said before, X-rays help the dentist see cavities and other infections that they would not see with a visual exam. Children also require X-rays more often than adult because their teeth and jaws are still developing so the X-rays determine if they are being affected by tooth decay.

You can be certain that the standards set by the ADA were made to protect your personal health and safety. At Gateway Oaks Family Dentistry, using digital dental X-rays through minimal exposure, does more good than harm.

If you have any more questions or concerns about dental X-rays, feel free to call or stop by Gateway Oaks Family Dentistry to speak with Dr. Hoang Truong.

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Don’t let tooth decay ruin your child’s teeth

Protect your child’s teeth from tooth decay.

There is a concerning number of children who suffer from tooth decay. In fact, it is the most common chronic disease in children. It is even more common than asthma or hay fever. While children are growing and developing the skills that will benefit them throughout their whole life, children are missing an essential healthy skill, tooth care.

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A few Gateway Dental “Cavity Free” patients. Regular checkups and good oral hygiene can help your kids stay on track for health teeth and gums.

It is important to teach children how to take care of their teeth, not just for today but for their future. According to an article by the Academy of General Dentistry, “Children who develop cavities in their baby teeth are more likely to develop cavities in their permanent teeth, as well.” This can lead to a future of painful dental visits, missed school days due to pain, and not to mention a string of heart and gastrointestinal problems that have also been linked to poor gum and teeth health.

Tooth decay can be prevented. By instilling proper eating habits, proper brushing and flossing techniques, and dental visits, you can protect your child from tooth decay.

Brush for two minutes, two times a day.

Brushing for two minutes, two times a day after breakfast and before bedtime is recommended. Children 2 years and older can use a pea sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. If your child is under 2, use a damp cloth to clean his or her gums and a soft bristled toothbrush with water. Make brushing fun! Set a timer or sing a song to help your child brush for the correct amount of time. You can find a collection of fun, 2 minute brushing videos at www.2min2x.org.

When your child is old enough, encourage brushing his or her own teeth. Just supervise to make sure that your child is thorough and using the right brushing and flossing technique.

Dental visits every six months.

Starting six months after your child’s first tooth erupts or by the child’s first birthday– he or she should see the dentist every six months. The dentist doesn’t have to be a scary place. By making regular visits to the dental office, it reduces anxiety and makes future visits less stressful. Your dentist can also check up on the development of your child’s mouth, teach you how to ensure good oral health and recommend special preventative care if necessary.

Sacramento Dentist

Promote healthy eating habits.

Yes, this step might seem easier said than done. Kids (and adults) love sugary snacks and drinks, but they are a major tooth decay offender. Sugar can break down tooth enamel, get between cracks in teeth and cause decay. Limit the number of snacks and drinks that contain a lot of sugar and offer a variety of fruits and vegetables instead. An apple a day really does keep cavities at bay.

Lead by example.

Your child looks up to you, so the best way to ensure your child develops the health habits necessary to stay health, is to practice the healthy habits yourself. Brushing and flossing your teeth with your child will teach him or her the importance of good oral hygiene. Not only do you get the joy of watching your child grow up healthy, you get the benefit of also living healthy. So whether you are enjoying a healthy snack, going to the dentist, or brushing and flossing your teeth, your child will too.

Are you concerned about your child’s oral health?

If your child is complaining about tooth pain, or if you notice any  problems with your child’s teeth, it is important to get any concerns checked out by your dentist immediately. There could be a serious problems that needs immediate attention.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment in Sacramento, give us a call at 916-649-0249 and get on the road to healthy teeth and gums today!

50% of Americans have this disease

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a study in 2009 and 2010 that measured the prevalence of periodontitis, familiarly known as gum disease, in American adults. The study CDCestimates that 47.2%, or 64.7 million American adults, have mild, moderate or severe gum disease. For adults over the age of 65, rates increase to 70.1%.

Conclusion: Nearly half of American adults have gum disease.

How can gum disease affect you?
Gum disease can do irreversible damage if not treated and maintained. The plaque that that builds up between teeth and gums creates pockets that bacteria can get into, causing an infection in the gums. The infection can damage the bone and periodontal ligaments (PDL) that hold teeth in place and gums may begin to pull away from teeth. At the advanced stage of gum disease, teeth begin to shift, loosen and fall out because the PDL and bone that usually support the teeth are destroyed.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?Gum Disease

  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Gums that are red, puffy or swollen, or tender
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
  • Pus that appears between your teeth
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

At every check-up and cleaning, the hygienist and doctor measures the bone level and inspects gums for any pus, bleeding or inflammation.

How is gum disease treated?
The doctor or hygienist recommends a deep-cleaning to patients with gum disease. The hygienist scales the teeth by cleaning off the plaque above and below the gum surface and root planing which smoothes out the rough layers of the teeth. For two weeks after a deep cleaning, chlorhexidine mouth wash is used to kill bacteria so sensitive gums will heal. If you have been diagnosed with gum disease it is important to follow the recommendations of your hygienist. She may recommend one to two additional cleanings per year.

shutterstock_2243118-(Medium)-732845Prevent gum disease from affecting you.

  • There are simple steps that you can take to avoid developing gum disease.
  • Brush and clean between teeth with floss
  • Eat a well balanced diet and avoid sugary snacks

Get regular check-ups and cleanings. They are the best way to discover and treat early gum disease before it leads to a more serious problem.

Do you still have questions about gum disease? Contact our Sacramento Dentist.

Brushing is NOT Enough

Simply said, oral hygiene consists of a lot more than just brushing your teeth. Don't Brush Too HardBrushing is not enough to prevent tooth decay and bad breath because your tooth brush is not able to get into the hard-to-reach areas where plaque and bacteria form.  Flossing and rinsing are an essential part of taking care of your teeth from home along with seeing your dentist for regular check-ups.

Every time a person eats the bacterium that is on your teeth with break down your food and creates an acidic environment. The result is a loss of tooth minerals that could result in a cavity.

You may ask, how can I help with the loss of teeth minerals? The best strategy would be to brush and floss immediately after you eat and drink.  However, we know many people are not able to do that.  The conclusion is that most people brush in the morning and at night and maybe floss…sometimes. (Not doing this? HOLD THE PHONE and check this out!)

Steps to brushing your teeth correctly:Periodontics: How to Brush Teeth

  1.  Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
  2.  Make small circles in short strokes.
  3.  Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  4. Use the tip of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
  5. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and to freshen your breath.

Steps to flossing your teeth correctly:

  1.   Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
  2. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion.
  3. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  4. Bring the floss back toward the contact point between the teeth and move the floss up or down the other side, conforming the floss to the shape of the tooth.
  5. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up-and-down motions.
  6. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth.

Still, this may not be enough. Many of our patients have great oral hygiene but still develop cavities because they may be at risk for tooth decay. To determine why you are prone to getting cavities, please request an appointment at your dentist for an assessment.

Turn Your Child Into the Best Brusher & Avoid Cavities

Sacramento Kids Dentist

Your child’s oral health is very important. It sets the stage for their smile for the rest of their lives. Introducing your kids to good oral health habits at a young age ensures they will carry those habits with them as they get older. 

Consider these facts:

  • A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report from 2007 shows the number of cavities in children ages 2 to 5 have increased from a decade ago. 
  • In a 2004 study, tooth decay was found to be the most common chronic childhood disease, 5 times as common as asthma.
  • A 2000 report found that dental-related illnesses result in a loss of more than 51 million school hours each year.

sacramento-dentist_oral-hygiene-for-kids

Do not fret! You can make oral care fun and easy for your kiddos. 

  • Brush and floss your teeth together to set a good example. (Yes, parents, you need to floss, too)
  • Sing a song or nursery rhyme for 2 minutes to help the process seem to go by faster for your kids.
  • Pick a fun toothbrush with your kids’ favorite character on it.
  • Pick a toothpaste that is flavorful to the child. Ask your dentist for samples.
Sacramento Kids Dentist

This cool toothbrush holder for kids can hold up to 4 toothbrushes. $19.99 at ModCloth.com

Other tips for success: 

1.    Brush teeth twice a day and floss once a day
2.   Change your child’s toothbrush every 3 months to ensure they always brush their best
3.   Have your child’s teeth checked by a dentist twice a year, starting at age 1.
4.   Limit sugary snacks and drinks like juice, sports drinks and soda to help prevent  cavities.

Following these simple guidelines is a great place to start to ensure that your child will lead a life with less cavities and create the habits of a well-oiled brusher and flosser. Good luck, and happy flossing! 

Dental X-Rays: An Important Diagnostic Tool

X-rays are an important diagnostic tool for me. They are as vital to me as getting blood work done with your medical practitioner or chest x-rays with your cardiologist. Without them, I cannot fully determine your oral health, which is my sole purpose. Getting radiographs taken every six months allows me to detect any problems early on.

Many patients have concerns about x-rays. But, the American Dental Association (ADA) states that a person absorbs more radiation from the sun every single day than x-rays taken at the dentist every six months. Since our radiographs are digital, the radiation exposure is extremely less than traditional methods.

Dentist in Sacramento Digital Xrays

This graph shows the amount of radiation each person receives from dental x-rays in comparison to other sources of radiation.

The first thing that radiographs help me with is determining bone levels in your teeth. One of the biggest causes of tooth loss is periodontal disease, or disease of the gums and bone. It begins as gingivitis and can grow uncontrollably into sever gum “periodontal” disease.  The x-rays help to determine bone levels and the condition of bone loss due to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can be determined by looking at the gums, but in all cases radiographs are needed to determine severity of bone loss.

Why do I need to determine bone levels? Identifying bone loss early, through x-rays taken every six months, allows me to be able to address the likelihood of patients’ having periodontal disease. Horizontal bone loss suggests aggressive periodontal disease, but that can be treated with great results. However, vertical bone loss is a more aggressive disease and is more difficult to achieve a good results.

Bone Loss & Gum Disease

The straight yellow line depicts the bone level on healthy teeth. The wavy line below identifies this patient’s actual level of bone. This tells me the patient has severe bone loss.

Secondly, radiographs are also helpful in diagnosing oral pathology from identifying cysts to cancerous lesions, broken roots, cavities, and failing restorations (just to name a few!), which are impossible to determine by visual examination alone. In addition, anything that is happening below the teeth and gums, I cannot see. Ethically and legally I need x-rays to keep my patients safe, healthy, and out of pain, and – most importantly – keeping your out of pocket costs low.

Sacramento Dentist does Oral Cancer Screening

X-rays identified a tumor in the lower jaw.

I have seen many cases where a new patient came to me in pain, after seeing his/her dentist just 6 months ago. Upon taking new x-rays I have found a broken tooth after a root canal, a crown that doesn’t fit correctly causing un-comfortability, and an abscess that has formed. And not just with new patients, even with current patients that see me religiously, cavities and decay can develop within six months or less.

Thirdly, x-rays identify things in your mouth that are going on that I could never determine just by sight. I want to stress the importance of these radiographs because they will identify problems even when the patient isn’t experiencing any symptoms. If your tooth hurts, you could have more than a little cavity, it could be an infection or a fractured tooth. When it hurts, you have waited too long.

Dentist in Sacramento fixes broken tooth

Patient has a fractured molar tooth. Indeterminable by looking at the tooth surface.

Insurance Companies and Radiograph Restrictions

Although x-rays are an important tool in the diagnostic process, insurance companies usually have restrictions and frequency limitations on what type of x-rays can be taken, when and how many are allowed. Even though x-rays are all the same, just the techniques are different, insurances sometimes won’t pay for them. Sometimes with the restriction from the insurance companies the patient will have to pay out of pocket for the necessary x-rays so that I can determine the condition of the teeth.

 

I reassure you that we would never take x-rays if it was not necessary or essential for the overall well being of your oral health.

Sacramento Dentist

Another diagnostic tool I use is my camera. This camera allows me to take highly detailed pictures that allows the patient to see cavities, decay, and other problems above the gum line.

 

No Cavities? You Can Thank The Fluoride!

People fall into three categories, there’s the “What the heck is fluoride” category, the “NO! I don’t want fluoride” category, and the “Duh, give me the fluoride” category. Although we’re hoping that our patients fall into the latter of the three we know that certainly isn’t the case. Our office is in Sacramento County, a county that does not fluoridate its water. An interesting concept considering that the centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls fluoridation “one of the 10 most valuable public health measures of the 20th century.” (Read that here: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00056796.htm)

What’s all the fuss about anyway? Fluoride was introduced and the rates of tooth decay decreased significantly in communities who adopted fluoridated drinking water. Fluoridated drinking water was so successful that soon it seemed everything contained fluoride:  orange juice, milk, toothpastes, drops, gels, and ingestible tablets. So while decay was on the decline, over fluoridation was on the rise.Fluoride In Water

This sparked an enormous debate that is still going strong and is not wavering. Over fluoridation called fluorosis, can create dark spots or white spots on the teeth because fluoride used too much will be poisonous. Fluorosis is rarely a result of fluoridated drinking water.  Just like one drink at the end of a long day is fine, 19 drinks will kill you. The CDC, American Dental Association (ADA), and most national health agencies endorse fluoride.

Think about this, less tooth decay means less visits to the dentist and less of your money going to the dentist, but yet all the dental associations and all the dentists you know ENCOURAGE you to get fluoride. That must mean that is a beneficial mineral for your teeth.

Fluoride provided in the office is not swallowed; it is applied topically, just like toothpaste. The fluoride helps to strengthen your teeth by filling the porous surfaces of your teeth with vitamins and minerals. According to the CDC, every $1 invested in fluoridated saves approximately $38 in dental treatment costs.

But still, this effort to fluoride communities has been called an unconstitutional form of mass medication and the culprit for medical issues such as AIDS, Down syndrome, all forms and cancer, the list goes on. Although no scientific data validates these claims, fluorosis (over fluoridation) does occur. Therefore, babies younger than 6 months old should not be given fluoride, their formula should not be prepared with fluoridated water and children that are younger than 2 years of age are advised not to use fluoridate toothpaste. For all children, toothpaste use should be monitored, kept out of their reach, and made sure to be spit out.

For information on flossing visit this article: https://bestsacramentodentist.wordpress.com/2012/08/27/irritated-bleeding-gums-and-flossing_sacramentodentist/

Dental Insurance: A Good Purchase or Not?

Did you know? In the 1960s dental insurance companies paid a yearly maximum of $1,000 and that number has not swayed over the past four decades? The average dental insurance pays a maximum of $1,200 per year. Sacramento dentist Insurance

Dental costs are on the rise and if you are like most you want to know should you purchase dental insurance. Many dental offices now offer great specials to first time patients for a full exam, x-rays, and most include a cleaning. Before deciding to purchase insurance opt for one of these appointments and talk with the dentist about how much treatment you will need. The dental office can help you decide which option would be best for you.

You should investigate the differences between using the proposed insurance through your employer or buying one independently. Weigh the monthly costs of dental insurance versus paying out of pocket for your dental treatment and see what works for you and your family.

A difficult fact for many patients but something very important to remember is that dental insurance is not similar to medical insurance. Many patients are shocked to realize that even though they are covered at 90% that they still have a big balance. The majority of dental insurance plans are designed with the purpose of only covering the basic dental care, about $1,000 to $1,500 per year, and is not intended to provide comprehensive coverage like that of medical insurance.

You might have heard the financial person at your dentist say, “you’re maxed out.” That is a term referring to your yearly maximum that the dental insurance plan will pay for the year. Any service you receive is taken from your yearly maximum. So even if your cleanings and other preventative services are covered at 100% they are done so because it is taken from allowed maximum allowance from the insurance company.

For example, if you have a yearly maximum of $1,200 and you saw your dentist in January and again in July for your biannual cleaning and check-ups at $300 per visit you would have a remaining available maximum of $600 for anything that may come up such as a filling or dental emergency. The yearly maximum will renew automatically each year and any unused benefits will not be rolled over into the next year. Each member of your family has their own yearly maximum so you will not be sharing benefits.

Sacramento Dentist - Dental Insurance Breakdown

A 2002 study of payers of dental care shows that government issued help only consisted of 6% of all bills. The rest was split almost evenly between out-of-pocket costs for the patient and his/her dental insurance.

In/Out of Network Dentists

There are HMOs which require you to go to a specific dentist and then there are PPOs which were designed to allow the patient to pick their dentist. However, more independent insurance companies are popping up calling themselves “PPO” but now have distinguished between in-network and out-of-network. It is the patient’s responsibility to verify if their dentist is in or out of network.  However, the differences are very minimal. If you have a dentist you like, trust, and are comfortable with stick it out.

Other Caveats

  • Co-pay? A lot of insurances have them but not the majority of PPOs. And if the insurance requires one and the dentist doesn’t make you pay for it then that is a red flag. That flag is called insurance fraud. While it may make things better for you right then it could certainly cause trouble in the long run.
  • Is there a “missing tooth clause” for people with missing teeth that they may want replaced later with a bridge, partial, or implant.
  • Differences in coverage for preventative, basic, and major work should be similar to other major insurance plans. Make sure that for preventative services that x-rays are covered, that root canals are covered under basic, and that they don’t have a missing tooth clause under major work. If you know you will need major work but your plan doesn’t cover it then you might want to look into switching or finding other ways to pay for your treatment.
  • Typical coverage: Preventative = 100%, Basic = 80%, Major = 50%
  • Most dental offices these days do not use amalgam (or silver) fillings, but insurances will not cover the full cost of a white filling, it would be a good thing to ask about.
  • Waiting periods – are there long periods of time required to pass before the insurance company will allow treatment to be redone on a tooth. For instance, if you had a filling 3 years ago that needs to be redone and your insurance has a 5 year waiting period, then they aren’t going to cover any of it.
  • All dental insurance companies are not alike so you must figure out which procedures fall under each category.

Conclusion

Dental insurances companies are raking in a lot of dough between your monthly premiums and your co-pays. Make sure that you are making the best decision for you and your family.

Yearly maximums are not going to be going up anytime soon and dentists know that. To help finance your dental care, many dental offices are now offering interest-free payment plans.

Cosmetic Dentistry: Roger’s Million Dollar Smile

Roger Smith has been coming to Gateway Oaks Family Dentistry for three years. Him and his dad have been regular visitors of the office and the team enjoys when they come in. Roger’s jokes are endless and always have a way of brightening the team’s day.  So when Dr. Truong was given the opportunity to provide cosmetic dental work to one lucky patient, Roger was a no-brainer.  (See Roger’s case and other Cosmetic Dentistry cases)

Dr. Truong and Roger teamed up with California Center for Advanced Dental Studies (CCADS) in San Francisco to perform the advanced cosmetic procedure. Roger came in for his first appointment where Dr. Truong consulted with Roger about his expectations, took pictures and impressions.

At Roger’s next appointment in San Francisco the entire team came to watch Dr. Truong prepare his teeth,  a procedure where the teeth are made the perfect shape to fit the veneers. Then he was fitted with natural looking temporary teeth. At Roger’s final and long anticipated appointment he was fitted with eight permanent,  and beautiful, veneers.  As long as Roger maintains good oral hygiene at home and continues to see us for his regular cleanings his veneers will last him a long time.

Q & A with Roger

What has been your experience with Dr. Truong & the Gateway Oaks Family Dentistry Team? Everyone is always professional, informative, enthusiastic, friendly and sincerely caring.

Before your veneers what were your concerns in regards to the way your smile looked? I was hesitant to smile and embarrassed to show my teeth

What was the process like getting veneers? The process was pleasant. The preparation was simple and the measurements were exact. The placement of the veneers was painless and did not take long.

Are you happy with your results? Extremely. I feel more confident and I am no longer hesitant to “show off” my new smile.

What are you most happy about? My top teeth are now straight, even, aligned, and bright!

What is the next step you will take to complete your smile? I’m going to the orthodontist to correct my bottom teeth with braces first and then I will finish with veneers.