The images acquired from receiving dental x-rays, referred to as radiographs, are a critical part of your dental assessment. Your dentist will view your radiographs initially to evaluate your overall dental health and establish a baseline record; and then will view updated radiographs at routine intervals to identify any changes that may occur over time. Although a dentist has invaluable clinical expertise, he or she is limited by their own ability to see and feel with dental instruments around your teeth and gums.  There are many cues a dentist can interpret from radiographs that will ensure an early diagnosis of pathology, which will provide you with timely intervention and treatment options. Specific problems we look for are tooth decay, abscesses or signs of infection in the bone surrounding the teeth, signs of periodontal disease which can include bone loss around the teeth and calculus build up on the root surfaces under the gum line, and in some cases we can see cysts and tumors in the bone adjacent to the teeth. Many of these problems do not cause symptoms until they are well established and in advanced stages.  The earlier your dentist detects a problem, the more treatment options he or she may be able to present to you.

There is a standard guideline issued by the American Dental Association that helps us determine what type of radiographs to evaluate and how often to update them. You may visit their website at http://www.ada.org to read an in-depth version of their guideline, but in general terms, all patients should have a full mouth series of intra-oral x-rays taken upon initial examination, and then again every 3-5 years thereafter.  In between the full mouth series, patients should have some individual intra-oral x-rays taken on an annual basis, referred to as bitewing x-rays and periapicals.  The bitewings and periapicals are a part of your full mouth series, but we take them each year to assess the areas of dentition most likely to change between each check up. In addition to the intra-oral x-rays, we may take a panoramic, or extra-oral x-ray to view larger structures outside the dentition. In some cases the panoramic radiograph can substitute for the full mouth series in cases where intra-oral x-rays are not attainable. The dental team, under instruction from your dentist, and in conjunction with the guidelines set forth by the ADA will take into consideration your unique set of dental needs and concerns when determining what type of radiographs to acquire.

Of special note is the recent popular media attention to possible hazards of receiving dental x-rays. Some studies on the correlation between certain types of cancer and dental x-rays have been talked about on various news programs that you may have heard. These studies were not conducted in a controlled scientific environment and contain many flaws.  Although it is true that dental x-rays are a form of radiation, we cannot make the assumption that they alone are the cause of certain cancers. Radiation is something we are all exposed to from both natural and man-made sources throughout our lifetime. In large doses radiation is known to be harmful; in smaller doses there is little known harm.  For more information on radiation you may visit http://www.radiationanswers.org.  This website provides some very good information on the science of radiation and its effects on your health.  Please remember how important radiographs are in identifying potential problems, and know that we will never frivolously take x-rays that we do not feel will improve the ability of the dentist to evaluate your dental health. We always follow what is known as the ALARA guideline which stands for As Low As Reasonably Allowable when exposing you to radiation for the purposes of acquiring radiographs. The benefit of a thorough examination with the appropriate radiographs shall outweigh any potential risk of receiving dental x-rays.

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We’ve just finished our ninth week in the new office and it is still amazing! We’d like to thank our patients for the great response to our new office and their cooperation with our new online forms.

For those of you that have not yet been to our new office at the Fountain Hills Medical Campus, our new location offers a beverage center in our reception area with coffee, tea and bottled water as well as massage chairs in most of our treatment rooms. We have a new state-of-the-art panoramic x-ray machine, a larger consultation room and beautiful decor. However, one very important thing has remained the same: our commitment to exceptional care and service for our patients.

We look forward to seeing you at your next visit or meeting you if you are a new patient to our practice.

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