Other Helpful Dental Topics
Dental Radiographs (X-Rays)
Radiographs (X-Rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions will be missed.
Radiographs detect much more than cavities. For example, radiographs may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. Radiographs allow dentists to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. On average, most dentists request radiographs approximately once a year,
Dentists are particularly careful to minimize the exposure of their patients to radiation. With contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-Ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. Digital x-rays and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.
Canker Sores and Cold Sores
There are two types of canker sores:
Simple canker sores
These may appear three or four times a year and last up to a week. They typically occur in people ages 10 to 20.
Complex canker sores
These are less common and occur more often in people who have previously had them.
The exact cause of most canker sores is unknown. Stress or tissue injury is thought to be the cause of simple canker sores. Certain foods — including citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables (such as lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, figs, tomatoes, and strawberries) — can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Sometimes a sharp tooth surface or dental appliance, such as braces, might also trigger canker sores. Sensitivity to sodium laurel sulfate, an ingredient in most toothpaste, can also cause mouth sores.
Some cases of complex canker sores are caused by an underlying health condition, such as an impaired immune system; nutritional problems, such as vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid, or iron deficiency; or gastrointestinal tract disease, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease.
You may have a canker sore if :
- A painful sore or sores inside your mouth — on the tongue, on the soft palate (the back portion of the roof of your mouth), or inside your cheeks
- A tingling or burning sensation before the sores appear
- Sores in your mouth that are round, white or gray, with a red edge or border
In severe canker sore attacks, you may also experience:
- Physical sluggishness
- Swollen lymph nodes
How Are Canker Sores Treated?
Pain from a canker sore generally lessens in a few days, and the sores usually heal without treatment in about a week or two. Cankers sores treated with dental lasers exhibit almost complete relief of the symptoms immediately. Talk to your dentist about the procedure.
Can Canker Sores Be Prevented?
Although there is no cure for canker sores, and they often recur, you may be able to reduce their frequency by:
- Avoiding foods that irritate your mouth, including citrus fruits, acidic vegetables, and spicy foods
- Avoiding irritation from gum chewing
- Brushing with a soft-bristled brush after meals and flossing daily, which will keep your mouth free of foods that might trigger a sore
You should call your dentist about canker sores if you have:
- Unusually large sores
- Sores that are spreading
- Sores that last 3 weeks or longer
- Intolerable pain despite avoiding trigger foods and taking over-the-counter pain medication
- Difficulty drinking enough fluids
- A high fever with the appearance of the canker sores
Cold Sores and Canker Sores are not the Same Thing. Although cold sores and canker sores are often confused with each other, they are not the same. Cold sores, also called fever blisters or herpes simplex type 1, are groups of painful, fluid-filled blisters. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are caused by a virus and are extremely contagious.
Cold sores — also called fever blisters — are a painful infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). These blisters are usually caused by HSV type 1, but can less commonly be due to HSV type 2. They may show up anywhere on your body, but are most likely to appear on the outside of your mouth and lips, your nose, cheeks, or fingers. Blisters form, then break and ooze; a yellow crust or a scab develops and eventually sloughs off, revealing new skin underneath. The sores usually last 7 to 10 days and are contagious until they crust over completely.
Ninety percent of all people get at least one cold sore in their life. This first occurrence is often the worst. Some children who are affected may become seriously ill. After the first infection, many people develop antibodies and never have another cold sore. About 40% of American adults, however, have repeated cold sores.
Although cold sores generally are not serious, the infection may be life-threatening for anyone who has AIDS or whose immune system is depressed by other disorders or medications. Patients with severe eczema may also get HSV over large parts of the body.
Sores may develop as late as 20 days after exposure to the virus. Once the virus enters your body, it may emerge near the original site of entry. About two days before an attack you may experience itching or sensitivity at the site. The virus may be triggered by certain foods, stress, fever, colds, allergies, sunburn, and menstruation.
Sealants and Fluoride
Dental Sealants (Seal Out Decay)
A sealant is a protective coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces (grooves) of the back teeth (premolars and molars), where four out of five cavities in children are found. This sealant acts as a barrier to food, plaque and acid, thus protecting the decay-prone areas of the teeth
From the CT Dental Health Partnership:
Millions of Smiles are Protected by Fluoride. Fluoridated drinking water is safe for your health and is effective in preventing cavities. It is trusted by dentists, physicians and other health professionals. Fluoridated community water systems are the best way to ensure that everyone – rich, poor, old and young – benefits from fluoride.
Fluoride in water is the single most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has proclaimed community water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Fluoride is Natural. It is already present in all water surfaces, even the oceans. Water fluoridation is simply the adjustment of fluoride that occurs naturally to a recommended level for keeping teeth healthy and preventing tooth decay. Fluoride in water is Safe and Effective. For 70 years, scientific evidence consistently indicates that community water fluoridation is safe and effective.
To learn more visit FluorideCT.com