Dental x-rays help Dr.Shlafer visualize diseases of the teeth and the surrounding tissue that cannot be seen during an exam. In addition, x-rays help find any problems early on which may save you from unnecessary discomfort by avoiding an emergency situation when least expected.
What Problems Can Dental X-rays Detect?
In adults, dental x-rays can be used to :
- Show areas of decay that may not be visible with an oral exam, especially small areas of decay between the teeth.
- Identify decay occurring beneath an existing filling.
- Reveal bone loss that accompanies gum disease.
- Assist in the preparation of tooth implants, braces, dentures and other dental procedures.
- Reveal changes in the bone or in a root canal resulting from infection.
- Reveal an abscess–which is an infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth.
- Reveal other abnormalities, such as cysts and some types of tumors.
In children, dental x-rays are used to:
- Watch for decay
- Determine if there is enough space in the mouth to fit all the incoming permanent teeth.
- Determine if primary teeth are being lost quickly enough to allow permanent teeth to come in properly.
- Check for the development of wisdom teeth and identify if the teeth are impacted.
How Often Should Teeth Be X-rayed?
The frequency of getting x-rays of your teeth often depends on your medical and dental history in addition to your current condition. Some patients need x-rays more frequently, while as a general rule of thumb, full mouth x-rays are taken every five years and bitewing x-rays (check-up films) are taken every 12-24 months.
People who fall into the high risk category who made need x-rays taken more frequently include:
- Children. Children generally need more x-rays than adults because their teeth and jaws are still developing and because their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay.
- Adults with extensive restorative work, such as fillings,—- to look for decay beneath existing fillings or in new locations.
- People who drink a lot of sugary beverages, —–to look for tooth decay–since the sugary environment creates a perfect situation for cavities to develop.
- People with periodontal (gum) disease, —-to monitor bone loss.
- People who have dry mouth—called xerostomia—whether due to medications (such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, antihistamines and others) or disease states (such as Sjogrens syndrome, damaged salivary glands, radiation treatment of the head and neck.) Dry mouth conditions can lead to development of cavities.
- Smokers, to monitor bone loss resulting from periodontal disease–smokers are at increased risk.
How Safe Are Dental X-rays?
Exposure to all sources of radiation–including the sun, appliances in your home, and dental x-rays—can damage the body’s tissues and cells which could lead to cancer in some instances. Fortunately the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of dental x-rays is extremely small, especially since we have had the newer technology of digital x-rays for many years.
If you are concerned about radiation exposure due to x-rays, talk to Dr.Shlafer about how often x-rays are necessary for you.
Dental x-rays can now be taken using sensors that transmit the image directly into a computer monitor. This larger image helps the patient to see problem areas more easily and enables Dr.Shlafer to zoom in on a specific area of the tooth. An important advantage to this technology is that it reduces the amount of radiation by 90%. Digital x-rays are also faster, in addition, this new technology is friendly to the environment since no chemicals are needed to develop the image. Dr.Shlafer has been using digital radiography for over 10 years.
What are dental x-rays?
What most people call x-rays are actually x-ray photographs (also known as radiographs). An image is made using x-rays, which are similar to sunlight, but of a shorter wavelength, and show Dr.Shlafer what is below the surface of a tooth. Even though we call them x-rays, we are actually referring to the image created by x-rays.
Why are dental x-rays necessary?
X-rays are the only way to identify problems that aren’t externally visible. X-rays are essential in doing a complete and thorough dental examination. They are especially important in diagnosing serious conditions early to allow for effective treatment before you experience discomfort. X-rays show bony anatomy and density, decay between the teeth or how extensive the decay is, whether an abscess is present, impacted wisdom teeth, or if children have permanent teeth.
How often do I need dental x-rays?
The number and type of x-rays you will need depends on several factors such as age, current dental health, and external signs that may trigger a cause for concern. We are sensitive to patients concerns about exposure to radiation, and only take x-rays that are necessary for your continued dental health.
A crown fits over the entire top of the tooth above the gum line. Crowns cover, protect, seal and strengthen your tooth. A crown is needed when there is not enough tooth structure to support a filling. A crown may be made of all porcelain (no metal), or porcelain fused to gold, or gold.
There are many situations that may call for a crown:
- Large decay. If a tooth has decay so deep and large that a filling will not stay, or if a tooth is weakened, a crown must be placed.
- Large old fillings. When large old fillings break down or get decay around them, they usually need a crown. This is because after the removal of the decay and an old restoration, there is not enough of the natural tooth left to support a filling.
- Cracked tooth. When a tooth has cracked, a filling cannot repair it. A crown is made and placed over the tooth to protect it and make it stronger. If a crown is not placed, the tooth will become sensitive and eventually break. If the tooth breaks vertically then the tooth can no longer be saved, it must be extracted and you now must decide how you will replace that missing tooth——implant or perhaps a bridge.
- Broken or fractured tooth. A tooth that has broken is too weak to hold a filling. A crown will hold the tooth together. If the fracture involves the nerve, a root canal may be required before the tooth is crowned. Again, in some cases a broken tooth cannot be saved and must be extracted and a replacement choice must be made.
- Sensitive teeth. Teeth that are very sensitive, either from wear, or receding gums, sometime require crowns to seal and protect teeth from hot and cold sensitivity.
- Root canal therapy. A tooth that has undergone root canal treatment will need a crown to properly seal and protect the tooth. A tooth with a root canal is more brittle and likely to break than a tooth with a healthy nerve and blood supply. A crown provides that necessary support.
As you can see, there are many situations where a crown is needed and many types of crowns that can be made—porcelain fused to gold; gold; all porcelain (with no metal) these are all fabricated at the lab. There is also a CEREC all porcelain crown that is made in our Detroit area office where Dr.Shlafer uses this technology to fabricate an all porcelain crown in one appointment. This allows a patient to complete the process in one appointment, avoiding the impression, temporary crown, and second visit to cement your permanent crown.
What do you fear most about going to the dentist? According to surveys, the most common fears are the thought of getting a shot and the sound of the drill. Farmington Hills Dentist Dr. Shlafer has delivered painless injections for years and headsets in our office allow our patients to listen to music during their appointment. We understand that visual stimuli, sounds and memories of bad dental experiences can actually enhance pain for patients. Fear and anxiety related to dental procedures very often complicates matters. We know our minds can trick us into interpreting sights and sounds as pain but, we can also use our minds to control our pain.
Dental Pain – Is It All In Your Head?
The first step in managing or eliminating dental discomfort, is understanding the source. In many cases, the myths about dental pain often outweigh the realities and the anxieties. We are here to help you sort through what will really happen during your appointment, the new technology that is available and what options there are to manage your anxiety.
Psychological Factors: Your state of mind can impact the level of discomfort experienced, along with a high level of stress and anxiety which will make the appointment more difficult for the patient.
Options For A Painless Dental Appointment:
- Nitrous Oxide (or as many patients call it–”laughing gas”) this is an easy way for patients to relax during their appointment without any driving restrictions.
- Oral pre-medication–this is a prescription that is taken about an hour before your appointment to relax you, the effects can last for several hours and you will need a driver to take you home.
- Oral medication in addition to Nitrous Oxide is the third option–this combination of prescription drugs and nitrous will place the patient in a twilight state of mind. Patients do not remember anything that happened and again, a driver is necessary. All of these options will be additional to the anesthetic used to numb the area being treated.
Of course, the most important way to reduce the pain involved in maintaining oral health is by focusing on preventive care instead of the treatment of problems. If you have been putting off going to the dentist for a long time, you may be experiencing gum or tooth problems–if you are looking for a pain free way to manage your dental care, Dr.Shlafer can help. Dentistry has come a long way over the last few year and you will be surprised on your next visit. Even if you have put off going to the dentist, Dr.Shlafer has new ways for you to experience a painless appointment.
One of the latest laser treatments available to treat gum disease today is offered by Dr.Shlafer. PerioLase is a special laser technique which is essential when treating our patients with periodontal disease. If you are like 100 million other Americans, you could be one of the 50% who have periodontal disease, the major cause of tooth loss in adults!
Periodontal disease starts off as plaque, which eventually hardens, forming tartar or calculus. Calculus deposits harbour bacteria which infect the gums. In the early stages, this is commonly referred to as gingivitis, and is characterized by red swollen gums that bleed when you brush your teeth. Many people experience bad breath and an unpleasant taste in their mouths as well. When gingivitis is left untreated it progresses to periodontal disease, which is much more serious. Pocckets are now formed, separating your teeth from your gums and supporting bone structure. Without treatment, the infection becomes severe and the pockets deepen, resulting in tooth loss.
The way to repair this damage is to get rid of the infection and tighten up the pockets. Until recently, that meant traditional scapel and suture gum surgery however, there is now an exciting laser alternative called Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP®) LANAP® available. This is the only laser assisted procedure certified by the FDA for treatment of periodontal disease. This breakthrough procedure can actually regenerate new gum and bone tissue.
PerioLase is a reliable alternative to traditional surgery, and ideal for patients who have recurring gum issues or health complications that may prevent them from having the traditional surgery. (for example: patients who take coumadin–a blood thinner–who often cannot stop this medication to have traditional surgery done. It is not necessary to stop coumadin for LANAP®) Patients who opt for laser surgery will experience less swelling, very little bleeding, and a comfortable recovery with little time missed from work.
If you feel you could be helped by LASER PERIODONTAL THERAPY, Dr.Shalfer offers a complimentary visit to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure.
PerioLase is the latest laser treatment for gum disease. What is laser gum treatment? Laser Periodontal Therapy™ utilizing PerioLase is an advanced technique that Dr.Shlafer uses to treat periodontal disease, saving many teeth that had been previously considered hopeless.
A laser light is used to gently remove harmful bacteria and diseased tissue from the gum pocket. This allows the body to heal naturally so that the gum pockets improve and the teeth become more stable. The Laser Periodontal Therapy™ is a wonderful treatment to bring patients back to a healthier state.
There are dramatic patient benefits:
- Significantly less traumatic, yet highly effective alternative to traditional “cut and sew” gum surgery.
- With no cutting of the gum tissue with a scalpel and no stitches, it means an easy recovery with minimal bleeding and very little time off work.
- This treatment option preserves your gum tissue, rather than cutting it away like traditional surgery.
- It reduces root exposure and sensitivity.
- It reduces infection.
- The cost is the same as traditional surgery and covered by most insurance plans.
Who Is A Candidate For This Therapy?
Anyone that has moderate to severe gum disease is a candidate. These are patients with gum pockets of 5mm or greater and bone loss.
Who Can Perform This Procedure?
Only specially trained dentists can provide PerioLase. This requires licensure from the FDA and certification from the Institute for Advanced Laser Technology. Dr.Shlafer is one of the first dentists in America to have this distinction.
After measuring the bone loss, a tiny laser fiber (about the thickness of three hairs) is inserted between the teeth and gums. The infection is gently cleared away leaving healthy newly sterilized tissues.
Because there is no cutting or stitches, people don’t experience the pain and bleeding associated with traditional gum surgery. This impact for treating gum disease is similar to that of Lasik laser surgery for eyes.
This is gum therapy that you don’t have to fear……………call for a complimentary evaluation to see if you are a candidate for the revolutionary PerioLase Laser Perio Therapy™
Holistic dentists (also known as “bio-compatible”, “biological” or “natural” dentists) consider the whole person (body, mind and spirit) and his or her lifestyle when recommending treatment. Dr. Shlafer understands the importance of a healthy immune system and utilizes treatment methods that will enhance overall health and wellness.
Mercury or Amalgam Fillings:
The use of mercury in conventional dentistry is a serious controversy and is probably the main reason to choose a holistic dentist——–holistic dentists don’t use mercury amalgam. Mercury amalgam (silver) fillings contain about 50% mercury, a substance more toxic than lead or cadmium. Traditional dental authorities allege the mercury is locked into the filling because the atomic structure of mercury is “bound” to the silver and therefore the mercury is biologically inactive. However, recent studies show that mercury vapor actually escapes and is absorbed by the rest of the body. This increases when eating or drinking hot foods and liquids, during chewing or when placement of an amalgam filling is next to a tooth that has been restored with gold or other metals.
“Silver” (mercury) amalgam fillings are a potential health risk for everyone, but are of particular concern for those who are chemically sensitive. If you have a number of of amalgam fillings and your immune system isn’t functioning optimally, you may feel symptoms like lethargy, blurred vision, dizziness, muscle aches, numbness, etc. Consider having your amalgams removed–not only are they potentially harmful, they are unsightly as well. Natural looking composites are healthier and more aesthetically pleasing.
Removing “Silver” Fillings and Mercury:
If you are considering having your old amalgam fillings removed, you will be comforted to know that Dr. Shlafer follows specific protocols to protect you from mercury exposure during the removal process. He will also recommend alternative materials and can refer you to a doctor skilled in mercury testing and detoxification.
Though silver fillings have been used routinely for the past 150 years, dentists have always been advised to handle mercury amalgam with extreme care. Strict protocols protect the dental staff. Left over “scrap” amalgam is considered hazardous waste by the EPA. Consider this: if the substance shouldn’t come into contact with Dr. Shlafer’s fingers, should it come into contact with the more tender, often compromised tissues of the mouth?
Holistic dentists provide dental care by focusing on the care of the whole person and using nontoxic materials in their practice. Holistic dentists are professionals that believe in the overall well-being of their patients. Dr. Shlafer understands the use of toxic materials in dental care may be potentially harmful to his patients. He provides care as a whole for the patient and will recommend the removal of any toxic metals by using safe and accepted methods.
The American Dental Association states, “The dental community has always been open to emerging diagnostic and treatment approaches that over the years have improved the oral health of the public, the health of the dental team and the practice of dentistry. The ADA (American Dental Association), has been consistent with its objective to encourage the improvement of the health of the public and to promote the art and the science of dentistry, support those diagnostic and treatment approaches that allow both patient and dentist to make an informed choice among safe and effective options.”
Holistic dentists promote health and wellness, not just treatment of disease.
Why should I choose a holistic dentist? The whole-body health approach provides numerous reasons for their use, but specifically:
- Old mercury fillings can crack and leak around the edges, causing your natural tooth to become weakened by the old silver filling.
- Dr. Shlafer will repair your tooth using nontoxic materials that bond to your tooth, providing not only a natural look, but also adding strength.
The practice of holistic dentistry is an integral part of complementary medicine. As Dr.Shlafer has seen, the mouth is an excellent barometer for systemic health. The condition of your teeth, gums and tongue are a window into the bio-mechanical state of your body.
Nothing says good health like a great smile! Back it up with the confidence that your healthy smile reveals a healthy mouth that speaks for your whole body!
One of the latest laser treatments available to treat gum disease is offered by Dr. Shlafer. This laser uses a small amount of energy that is directed with great precision at the diseased portions of the gum. The laser removes the diseased tissue, thus eliminating infection. This whole process is done without any incision. Dr. Shlafer has been specially trained to use PerioLase, which is the only laser designed for the LANAP® protocol (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure) a sophisticated gum treatment that replaces the painful, traditional gum surgery. PerioLase is an FDA approved laser that is a safe and non-invasive way for Dr.Shlafer to treat gum disease.
The soft tissue therapy PerioLase offers is a non-surgical technique proven to significantly improve pockets. With no other procedure offering such a high success rate, Dr.Shlafer has witnessed the long term success in his patient’s oral health.
Periodontal disease affect the gums and soft tissues that support your teeth. The most common forms of periodontal disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. Patients suffering from gum disease experience their gums pulling away from the bone and teeth due to bacteria. Severe periodontitis eventually leads to tooth loss. Typically those who are diagnosed with gum disease have repeat symptoms for the rest of their lives. Dr.Shlafer can now safely and effectively treat you and create an environment where gums can grow back to the teeth. PerioLase is the first laser to use digital technology for more reliability.
Have you been fighting a losing battle with periodontal disease? Are you concerned you may lose your teeth? Maybe the pain associated with traditional gum surgery is holding you back. If any of these concerns apply to you, Dr.Shlafer can help. Now is the time to schedule that complimentary visit to determine what your next step in saving your teeth could be.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 28,000 cases of oral cancer are diagnosed annually, with more than 7,000 of these cases resulting in death. Oral cancer may occur on the mouth, lips, tongue, salivary glands, and throat.
Since oral cancer often begins with an asymptomatic stage during which symptoms may not be obvious, it is often painless initially and therefore difficult to detect. The following signs do not necessarily signify cancer, are not all inclusive and may signify other dental conditions, they may be associated with early signs of cancer. Since oral cancer treatment is usually successful when performed in the early stages, any abnormal change in the mouth, gums, tongue, or surrounding area should be evaluated by Dr. Shlafer immediately.
Possible Signs of Oral Cancer:
- Continuous pain in the mouth
- Sores and bumps inside the mouth, including ragged, ulcerous lesions
- Difficulty moving mouth and jaw
- Bump in the neck
- Pronounced pain in one ear
- Undiagnosed bleeding from tongue, gums or cheeks
- Numbness in a specific area of the mouth
For a definitive diagnosis, you can start with an evaluation by Dr. Shlafer. He will examine your mouth and evaluate your medical history to formulate an initial diagnostic impression. You may be offered a Vizilite cancer screening test and possibly asked to return to the office in 2 weeks to determine if a biopsy is needed. Dr. Shlafer will guide you through this process.