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dental technology

Dental Questions: What are digital x-rays?

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Dental Questions: What are digital x-rays?

thousandoaksfamilydentistry.com

Most of our patients will remember the transition from film to digital dental x-rays with a positive stance. Gone are the days of sharp film holders, waiting for the developer and difficulties in duplication. But what are the biggest advantages of digital x-rays? Are they safe? How to they work? Read on to find out the true benefits behind this new technology!

Digital dental x-rays work on the same principles as modern digital cameras. In fact, our x-ray sensors use the same CMOS technology found in many modern DSLR, pocket and cell phone cameras. The main difference is that dental sensors are calibrated to react to x-ray radiation rather than the photons in visible light. Beyond that, the images are digitally decoded and rendered using much of the same technology as digital photography. The sensor itself contains no hazardous material and emits no radiation. 

The two main principles that drive the digital revolution in dental x-rays are lower radiation and increased efficiency. "Exposing" a digital x-ray sensor requires less radiation than a similarly sized film, even when comparing the most sensitive film available. Digital images are also easier to manipulate, enlarge and change contrast, which allows us to gather more information off of a single picture. Finally, we can now judge the need for re-takes immediately, which translates to less waiting during your appointment. 

Whenever discussing dental x-rays, the topic of safety always comes to light. We are here to assure our patients that dental radiography is extremely safe, with the benefits largely outweighing any drawbacks. Even after a full-mouth set of x-rays (taken about once every five years), you experience roughly the same amount of radiation as a trans-atlantic flight. Furthermore, four bitewings (taken about once every year to 18 months) require less radiation than spending a day outside in the sun. Particularly with our ultra sensitive digital sensors, your effective radiation exposure is negligible

It is important to note that traditional film x-rays still play an important role in dentistry. Many practitioners still rely on film with excellent results and high patient satisfaction. This is particularly true of pediatric offices, where the thin profile and gentle flex of film allows dentists to get clearer images in smaller mouths. If you would like to know about digital x-rays or any other new trends in dental technology, please give our office a call!

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Stimulating Stem Cells With Dental Fillings

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Stimulating Stem Cells With Dental Fillings

thousandoaksfamilydentistry.com

You have probably seen headlines across the internet discussing new a newly invented dental filling that stimulates stem cells within the teeth. Researchers at The University of Nottingham and Harvard University came together and created this material that is proposed to change the face of dentistry. While this discovery has huge implications for dental care, many articles oversell its proposed abilities. 

In discussing how this material is supposed to work, it is important to understand the anatomic structure of teeth. Every tooth has three general layers: enamel, dentin and pulp tissue. The enamel is mostly mineral and happens to be the hardest structure in the human body. It is also the layer most resistant to tooth decay. Beneath the enamel lies the softer and porous inner dentin. The pulp tissue is the innermost layer that contains nerves, blood supply and stem cells. These new fillings rely on changing the pulp's response to trauma and inflammation. 

Unfortunately, dental pulp tissue is not very resilient. Trauma, extreme temperatures, deep fillings and bacteria can all cause the pulp to become inflamed and/or die, necessitating a root canal. However, if the attack is moving slowly enough, the pulp may shrink itself by laying down new dentin and "move away" from the irritating source. The new filling material hopes to capitalize on this mechanism when placing deep fillings near the pulp tissue. Instead of causing the nerve to die, the substance hopes to induce the tooth to lay down more dentin, creating a safe and natural barrier between the tooth and filling. 

It is important to understand that (by design) this material is not an end-all solution to cavities and root canals. For starters, it would have little benefit over traditional fillings when used in shallow cavities far from the pulp. It would also not be of use in teeth that need root canals due to fracture, trauma or decay that extends entirely to the pulp. Many times, teeth need root canals not due to deep fillings that aggravate the pulp tissues, but rather because the bacteria have travelled through the enamel and dentin and have infected the inner tooth. Once the pulp comes in contact with outside microbes, it will almost certainly need a complete root canal treatment. 

Still, this new material has wonderful applications in the modern dental office. Many fillings that were previously given with a questionable prognosis can now be provided with increased likelihood of success. Likewise, this invention paves the road for future regenerative dental technologies. Who knows what the future holds in store! For more information on these new fillings and how they work, feel free to give our office a call or email us at staff@thousandoaksfamilydentistry.com

 

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CDA Presents

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CDA Presents

This weekend, our social media developer and former dental assistant Dean attended CDA Presents- the California Dental Association’s yearly convention and trade show. CDA Presents is a great way to keep up-to-date with new technologies and the latest developments in the dental industry. In addition to vendors, the convention offers educational opportunities, training classes and great networking events. All of this translates to improved patient care and streamlined service. Dean is eager to report back with tons of great new ideas and products!

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