Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

X-Rays are commonly used by dentists to see beneath your gums and into your bones. However, x-rays use radiation to create their pictures which can cause anxiety in some people. Radiation can have potentially harmful effects and you can find lots of information online about the dangers of radiation. But are dental x-rays really dangerous? Join us at Summit Family Dentistry as we dive into the information about x-rays and radiation.

How safe are dental x-rays?

In short, dental x-rays are considered to be very safe. When performed properly, dental x-rays give off extremely low levels of radiation. Additionally, over the years there have been many improvements to x-ray technology that continue to improve the safety of the procedure.

Just how little radiation do you get exposed to with dental x-rays? A set of 4 bitewing x-rays will expose you to 0.4mrem of radiation. Compare that to the amount of radiation you are exposed to from a variety of things you do in your daily life – drinking water exposes you to 5mrem per year and using natural gas for heating/cooking exposes you to 9mrem per year. You are even exposed to 35mrem of natural radiation from the soil every year.

We also take additional safety precautions to minimize your exposure to radiation during the x-ray. We will have you wear a lead apron to protect most of your body. We also have a leaded thyroid collar that protects the thyroid, which is more sensitive to radiation. If you are pregnant, please let your dentist know so they can take extra precautions or they may decide against taking x-rays at that time to protect you and your fetus.

What are the benefits of dental x-rays?

Dental x-rays are very useful and help us diagnose a number of oral health problems that can cause patients pain and discomfort. Letting these issues go unchecked can cause far worse problems than the small amount of radiation received from the x-ray. The problems that we can identify include:

  • Tooth decay occurring between the teeth
  • Bone loss
  • Tumors or other growths
  • Changes in a root canal
  • Infections between the teeth and gums

If these problems are not promptly addressed, they can lead to serious long-term issues for your oral health.

Overall, the benefits of having x-rays taken vastly outweigh the risks associated with being exposed to such a small amount of radiation. If you have more questions or concerns about dental x-rays, call our Denver, NC dental office at (980) 222-7501 and we will be happy to give you more information.

Toothache Causes & Home Remedies

A toothache is a pain in or around a tooth. Toothaches can be caused by simple issues like a popcorn kernel stuck in your gum to more serious dental problems like an abscess or broken tooth. Some tooth pains won’t get better on their own and you will need to see a dentist for treatment. If you’re suffering from a toothache, Summit Family Dentistry in Denver, NC can help!

Toothache Causes

Toothache causes—and treatment options—can vary. Depending on your symptoms, you could have one of the following issues:

  • Tooth decay or untreated cavities
  • A tooth abscess (a bacterial infection inside the tooth)
  • Tooth crack
  • Broken tooth
  • Damaged filling
  • Gum infection or damage

Toothache Symptoms

Toothache pain can range from mild to severe, and it may be constant or intermittent. Pain in your tooth and mouth is the primary symptom of a toothache, but the type of pain can vary from:

  • Sharp, throbbing, or constant pain on or around an infected/damaged tooth
  • Pain that only occurs when pressure is applied to a tooth, gums, or jaw
  • Swollen or painful gums
  • Bad taste in the mouth (likely from an infection in a tooth)
  • Fever or headache

Home Remedies for Toothaches

If you’re hoping to minimize pain from a toothache, you can try the following home remedies. Please talk with your dentist before using any of the home remedies listed below if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or have any medical condition that may be impacted by herbal ingredients.

  • Saltwater rinse. Use 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water then use a mouthwash.
  • Apply a cold compress on/near the area of pain.
  • Use over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol or Advil to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Teabags. Apply a cold or warm tea bag to your tooth—but tea can stain teeth so don’t use this method often.

When to See the Dentist

If your pain is severe or has persisted for more than a day or two, it’s time to see your dentist. They can provide guidance on how to relieve your symptoms and prevent future pain. You should also see a dentist if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • trouble swallowing
  • general pain that lasts more than one or two days
  • swelling
  • pain when you bite or chew 
  • abnormally red gums
  • foul-tasting discharge, or pus

If you’re experiencing tooth pain and need to see a dentist in Denver, NC, contact Summit Family Dentistry today.

Pros and Cons of a Root Canal

A root canal is a dental procedure used to save a tooth that has become infected or injured. The procedure can remove damaged tissues in the tooth and prevent future infection, but is it really worth it? At Summit Family Dentistry in Denver, NC we offer root canal treatment. We will examine the pros and cons of root canals to help you decide if a root canal is right for you.

Cons of Having a Root Canal

While root canals are pretty common, there are some drawbacks to having this procedure done. One of those drawbacks is that it might weaken the tooth. Dentists have to drill through the tooth in order to get to the pulp, and additional decay might have to be removed. If the tooth is too weak to function, the dentist will add a crown to it, which will strengthen the tooth and allow the patient to use it like a natural tooth.

Another disadvantage of having a root canal is the time it takes in order to get one done. In most cases, a patient will only need to go to the dentist once to get this procedure done. However, two to three appointments are required in complicated cases where the infection or damage is severe. Also, patients might need two to three visits to get root canals on upper first molars. Upper first molars have three to five root canals, and each one must be treated, which takes longer to complete.

Root canals can also cause discomfort to the mouth and jaw, as they will have to remain open the entire procedure. While there are some cons to having a root canal, there are also some advantages.

Pros of Having a Root Canal

One of the advantages of getting a root canal is that it keeps the natural tooth. Dentists remove the infected pulp tissue, clean out the root canal and replace it with filling material. Because the patient gets to keep the natural tooth, they don’t have to worry about bone loss. The tooth’s root will also continue to stimulate the bone, so the patient can keep their natural smile.

Another benefit of having a root canal is that it stops tooth pain. Having an inflamed or infected pulp can be pretty painful and can make it difficult to function in everyday life. A root canal cleans out the infected pulp and antibiotics are used to treat the area if needed. Once everything is healed, the toothache will be gone!

If you choose to have a root canal over a tooth extraction, it helps prevent gaps in your mouth. Gaps can lead to alignment issues, which can change your smile and make it difficult to eat. With a root canal, your tooth stays in place so you don’t have to worry about those alignment issues.
Root canals are also more affordable than extracting the tooth and replacing it. You get to keep your real tooth and your real smile.

Like any dental procedure, there are pros and cons. It’s always a good idea to talk with your dentists if you think you may need a root canal. Call Summit Family Dentistry in Denver, NC today and we’d be happy to schedule an appointment with you.

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How To Prevent Cavities & Tooth Decay

Cavities, often referred to as tooth decay, are tiny holes that develop in the hard surface of your teeth. They are most common in children and teenagers, but they can affect everyone including infants and toddlers. Summit Family Dentistry, in Denver, NC, can help if you are suffering from one or multiple cavities. Let’s take a closer look at what causes cavities and how you can prevent them.

Causes of Cavities

Cavities typically occur as a result of poor oral health habits but other various factors can increase the risk of getting a cavity, including:

  • Dry mouth. Dry mouth occurs when there is a lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps wash away food stuck on the teeth and it counters the acid produced from bacteria in the mouth, which reduces the chance for cavities.
  • Foods and drinks. Certain foods aren’t as easily washed away from saliva, making them more likely to cause decay. Foods you should limit include: ice cream, honey, sugar, soda, cake, chips, cookies, and hard candy.
  • Constant snacking or sipping. Drinking or eating frequently throughout the day results in increased bacteria in your mouth. This bacteria produce the acids that attack tooth enamel.
  • Lack of fluoride. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps prevent cavities and can reverse the early stage of tooth decay. Use a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash to help reduce your chance of cavities.

Cavity Prevention

Regular dental visits and daily brushing and flossing are the best protection against cavities. If you get a cavity, it should be treated right away. But, cavities left untreated get larger and larger, affecting the deeper layers of your teeth. Deeper cavities result in higher chances of experiencing severe toothache and infection. So, when it comes to cavities, prevention is key. Below are some of our cavity preventions tips:

  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste. Brush and floss twice a day, ideally after each meal.
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Professional teeth cleanings remove plaque that builds up overtime which isn’t removed by regular brushing and flossing. Going to the dentist twice a year is one of the best cavity prevention options.
  • Dental sealants. Sealants protect the tooth enamel from harmful plaque and bacteria.
Learn More About Fillings and Sealants

What Is The Best Teeth Whitening Option?

Teeth can become discolored for a variety of reasons and many people want their teeth to be bright and white, so they look into teeth whitening. When it comes to getting a brighter smile, you can whiten your teeth at home or get a professional treatment. At home whitening typically includes over-the-counter products like whitening strips, pens, or toothpaste. Professional whitening includes custom-made whitening trays you take home or an in-office appointment. What might work best for some, might not necessarily work best for another. So what’s the best teeth whitening option for you?

Both over-the counter and professional treatments use peroxide bleaching agents as the main active ingredient. The difference between each option is the amount of peroxide it contains. Over-the-counter solutions use 3 – 20 percent where professional solutions contain 14 – 43 percent. Solutions with higher amounts of peroxide should be left on for a shorter amount of time. Keeping the solution on longer will dehydrate your teeth and make them more prone to sensitivity.

Professional Whitening

Professional teeth whitening options are much safer and more effective. Additionally, it ensures that all of the proper precautions are taken. So, when it comes to protecting your gums, the whitening agent only gets on your teeth.

At-Home Whitening Products

Over-the-counter products are cheaper, generally take longer to see results, and have limitations depending on your tooth color and health prior. If used incorrectly, at-home teeth whitening kits can lead to burned gums, tooth sensitivity, or pain. It’s always best to talk with your dentist to decide the best treatment option for you.

If you choose to go for an over-the-counter solution, we recommend that you use one from the list of bleaching products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Bleaching Products with ADA Seal of Acceptance Learn More About Teeth Whitening

What Are the Pros and Cons of Dental Implants?

One of the hottest topics in dentistry today is the use of dental implants. Implants have certainly revolutionized the field of replacement teeth. If you are considering tooth implants for missing teeth, you need to know the facts. There are pros and cons of dental implants that are carefully weighed by your dentist before surgery can be scheduled.

At Summit Family Dentistry in Denver, NC, we offer dental implant treatment. Research continually shows that dental implants are the best long term solution to replace missing teeth. However, like any type of surgery, there are advantages and disadvantages.

Cons of Dental Implants

No procedure is right for everyone, including dental implants. While there are some risks associated with dental implants, they are relatively mild. The disadvantages include:

1. You have to meet a set of requirements

In order to have dental implant surgery, you first have to meet certain criteria. As the procedure involves anchoring the implant to your jaw bone, if you’ve experienced significant bone loss as a result of losing teeth, there may not be enough for the dental implant to be successful. You also have to be in good health so your jaw bone can fully recover.

2. The cost of the procedure

While dental implants are the best long term solution for tooth loss, they’re not always the most cost effective. However, dental implants are well worth the price for the comfort, confidence and natural feel they give you.

3. The procedure can be lengthy

Dental implants are not a quick fix and can take several months to complete. If you’re replacing an existing damaged tooth, this will first need to be removed. Your dentist will then need to prepare the tooth site before fitting the implant anchor. Once the anchor has been fitted, you’ll need to wait several months while it heals and the surrounding bone grows. The final stage of the procedure involves placing the artificial tooth.

Pros of Dental Implants

While there are some drawbacks to dental implants, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

1. They look and feel like natural teeth

Dental implants have the appearance of real teeth. In fact, once your implant has been fitted, you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference between your replacement tooth and your real teeth. Implants also won’t feel any different from your regular teeth. Since the implants are anchored to your jaw, they’ll feel just as strong as your regular teeth too.

2. You can eat and chew with ease

Unlike dentures, implants won’t feel any different than your regular teeth when eating and chewing. Once the dental implant procedure is complete, you can eat what you want! Whether you fancy crunchy snacks, chewy foods, or hot or cold drinks, you can eat and drink without concern — just remember not to overdo the sugary treats.

3. Dental implants can last a lifetime

Implants are a long-lasting tooth replacement solution. You may need to replace the crowns every 10-15 years, but if you look after the implants, they can last a lifetime.

4. They’re easy to take care of

You should take care of your implants the same way you would take care of your regular teeth with daily brushing and flossing, regular dental checkups and a healthy diet.

5. They prevent bone loss

Dental implants are anchored into your jaw, similar to your real teeth. The screw thread of the implant acts as the root of a natural tooth, so with dental implants, your jaw bone remains strong and you won’t experience bone loss.

You can see that the advantages heavily outweigh the disadvantages. Dental implants have been proven to be a great option for people who suffer from tooth loss. We always want to make our patients look and feel great, and dental implants is a great way to do that. We’re always happy to answer any questions you may have, so contact us today!

Dental Implants in Denver, NC

Oral Health Tips For Seniors

No matter your age, good dental hygiene is important in minimizing the chance of cavities and other oral health problems. As you age, it becomes even more critical that you care for your teeth. Even more so, if you have a health condition such as heart disease or diabetes. We’re here to help you prevent oral health problems throughout every stage of life. Below are just a few of our oral health tips for seniors and caring for your teeth as you age.

Maintain regular dental visits

Getting your teeth and gums checked regularly is very important, even if you wear dentures, catching any oral health problems early and helping prevent future issues. Keep in mind that Medicare doesn’t pay for routine dental care so you may want to look into private dental insurance.

Brush, floss, and rinse daily

Brushing and flossing each day with a fluoride toothpaste and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash removes plaque from your teeth and reduces the chances of tooth decay or gum disease.

Watch for changes in your mouth

Your risk of getting oral cancer increases with age. If you see any spots, lumps, white or red patches, or if you’re experiencing difficulty swallowing or chewing, numbness on your tongue, or swelling of your jaw—contact us right away.

Avoid tobacco

According to the CDC “smoking tobacco products (including cigarettes and cigars) causes almost nine of every 10 cases of lung cancer, but smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body”, including the mouth and throat.

Ask your doctor about dry mouth

Dry mouth is the result of not having enough saliva to keep your mouth wet, and makes it harder to talk, eat, and swallow. If your medication is causing dry mouth, ask your doctor if there is any substitution that doesn’t produce dry mouth.

Care for your dentures

Dentures require special care, including using a deep-cleaning solution to soak off food remnants from the denture. Dentures can make life easier for many seniors, but you have to keep up with their care.

Caring for your teeth as you age doesn’t have to be challenging! We’re here to help with any questions or concerns you may have about aging and oral health.

How to Know If Your Tooth’s Enamel Is Damaged

Enamel isn’t something we think about every day, or even all that often. However, it is one of the most important things about your oral health. Enamel is the tooth’s outer covering. Over time, enamel can become chipped, worn or even lost due to dental trauma, dental procedures or problems with the supporting tissues of the mouth. While calcium can naturally repair to some degree, damage sustained over time may leave your tooth vulnerable to further enamel loss.

It can be difficult to know if your tooth’s enamel is permanently damaged. We’ve created a list to know if yours is damaged to make it easier for you!

Tooth Sensitivity

One of the most common signs your tooth’s enamel is damaged is sensitivity. You may notice discomfort while eating or drinking something with hot or hot temperatures. The more your enamel gets damaged, the more extreme your sensitivity will become. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, make sure to talk with your dentist as soon as possible!

Color

Another way to know if your enamel is damaged is if the color of your teeth has changed. This color change often occurs first on the central incisors, which are your very front teeth. Those teeth might become transparent around the outer edges. As the enamel continues to erode, your teeth might turn a gray or yellowish color.

Shape

If your teeth change shape, it’s a good indicator that you have enamel damage. Your teeth may begin to appear rounded, develop ridges, and often the gaps between teeth will become more substantial. Eventually, you may notice cracks in your teeth.

How to Stop Enamel Erosion

Tooth enamel loss puts your teeth at increased risk for tooth decay. Some tooth enamel loss occurs naturally with age, but you can help stop harmful tooth enamel loss by following a regular oral care routine of brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing regularly. Your tooth enamel is the first line of defense for your teeth against the tooth decay.

Here at Summit Family Dentistry, we are always happy to help. If you think you are experiencing enamel damage, give us a call at (980) 222-7501, and we’ll set up an appointment. We’ll look at your teeth for any signs of erosion, and talk with you about your options if you do have damage.

Are Dental Implants Safe?

Dental implants have become many dentists’ go-to procedure for replacing missing teeth. Dental implant surgery replaces tooth roots with metal, screw-like posts and replaces damaged or missing teeth with artificial teeth that look and function much like real ones. This surgery is a great alternative to dentures and can offer an option when a lack of natural teeth roots don’t allow building denture or bridgework tooth replacements.

What are the risks?

Like any type of surgery, there are a few risks to getting dental implants. However, the problems that come with dental implant surgery are rare and typically minor and very treatable. Risks include:

  • Sinus problems, when dental implants placed in the upper jaw protrude into one of your sinus cavities
  • Injury or damage to surrounding structures, such as other teeth or blood vessels
  • Nerve damage, which can cause pain, numbness or tingling in your natural teeth, gums, lips or chin
  • Infection at the implant site

The advantages of using dental implants

Dental implants are one of the most reliable dental procedures with a 95% success. They also offer advantages that other missing teeth solutions do not, such as:

  • Appearance – Implants look and feel like your natural teeth.
  • Speech – No need to worry about slipping dentures or loose bridges that can cause slurred speech.
  • Comfort – Implants are permanent and stable, so no chaffing or discomfort will happen like with dentures.
  • Oral health – Implant placement does not require modifying surrounding teeth as a bridge does. Also, implants stop bone deterioration and stimulate healthy bone tissue growth.

Dental Implant Procedure

When considering having a dental implant procedure, a patient will typically go through the following steps:

  1. First, the patient will go through a thorough exam and consultation with the dentist. The dentist will then make an individualized treatment plan.
  2. At the next appointment, the team will place your implant, which acts as a substitute tooth root.
  3. Then, the tooth is given time (about 2-3 months) to heal and integrate with the bone tissue.
  4. Once the implant has bonded to the bone tissue, a small connector called an abutment is attached to the implant.
  5. Impressions are taken of your teeth to create either a custom crown to replace one tooth or an implant-supported bridge or denture for multiple missing teeth. Crown restorations are custom tinted, so they blend in beautifully with your natural teeth.
  6. The finished crown, bridge, or denture is attached to the implant(s).

Once you get the finished implant, your new teeth are ready to use! If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at (980) 222-7501. We want your implants to look and feel like real teeth and you smile looking its best!

Why Are Baby Teeth Important?

Tiny, but important ― that’s how baby teeth are referred to, especially by dentists. While most parents would look at their babies’ tiny teeth and wonder what in the world they could be thinking about, dentists realize early on that these tiny teeth aren’t just for looking at cute smiles and giggles.

Taking good care of your baby’s teeth early on is crucial to their oral health now and for the rest of their lives. We’ve come up with several reasons why you want to keep your baby’s teeth in tip top shape.

  • These teeth are crucial to your child’s health and development. They help with the development of permanent teeth by saving space for them in the jaw. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift to the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in.
  • Baby teeth aid in speech development. Taking care of your child’s teeth will help them speak and communicate better.
  • They help your child maintain good nutrition by permitting him/her to chew properly.
  • Baby teeth help children feel good about themselves and their smile. It’s so important for children to feel confident from a young age and keeping their teeth healthy is imperative.

What happens if baby teeth aren’t taken care of?

Baby teeth can get cavities, just like adult teeth. In addition to the pain caused by cavities, they can also lead to dental infections. Tooth decay is a serious, infectious, and transmissible disease that can spread quickly and lead to infection. If a tooth needs to then get extracted, this can cause the teeth to drift, which may lead to overcrowding and difficulty for the adult teeth to grow in.

Be sure to visit a dentist within six months of your child’s first tooth appearing and definitely by the time they reach the one year mark. Our team will check for cavities and any other pediatric dental problem. We’ll also help show you and your child how to properly take care of their teeth. Give us a call today at (980) 222-7501!