Dental X-rays and Radiation

Dental x-rays are one of the most important tools available in monitoring the status of your oral health. You’re probably aware of the dentist “poking” around your teeth every 6 months after your cleaning. Dr. Nagao checks each tooth for any signs of wear, stickiness, or discoloration that could indicate a cavity is starting. However, a lot of cavities can’t be seen with the naked eye. This is where x-rays are important!

X-rays give your dentist the ability to see between and around the teeth. Not only is he checking for cavities starting to form between the teeth (called flossing cavities), but he’s also looking at the end of the root and at the sinuses and bone for cysts, abscesses, or other abnormal masses that would otherwise be nearly undetectable without x-rays.

Often times, patients want to decline x-rays out of concern for the exposure to radiation. Ideally, patients have bitewing x-rays (four x-rays) done every year, and a full series of x-rays (eighteen x-rays) done every five years. Patients often think, “Oh what’s another six months? I’ll get them done next time.” However, next time can easily turn into two, three, or four years without these vital checkup x-rays. What started as a small cavity that would only need a filling could turn into a large cavity, requiring a root canal and crown, which are considerably more costly than a filling. Unfortunately, there’s no magic timeline for how quickly a cavity can progress – every patient is different. Therefore, it is very important to stay on top of the scheduled dental x-rays. The benefits of having these x-rays done routinely far outweigh the exposure to radiation risks!

Digital x-rays have become quite popular, despite being significantly more expensive than traditional film x-rays. They are fast (no developing in chemicals), convenient (easy storage), and actually much lower in radiation than their film counterparts! Often times they are up to 80 percent lower in radiation!

People often ask, “Well if x-ray radiation is so minimal, why do I have to wear a heavy lead blanket? And why does everyone leave the room during my x-rays?”

The heavy lead blanket is there to protect your neck and upper torso. Despite the radiation being minimal and very concentrated, there is no need to expose these areas to radiation if it isn’t necessary. Same goes for the assistant or hygienist taking the x-rays: they do this all day long. They make take 10 series of x-rays that day, which is 10 times the exposure the patient gets. Minimizing any exposure to x-rays is ideal. 

Going off of the above chart, you can see the radiation we get from dental x-rays is very minor. You’ll be exposed to more radiation on a daily basis just from being in the Arizona sun for a few minutes! At Designer Dental, we are always willing to respect our patient’s wishes when it comes to the frequency of dental x-rays. However, we hope that this article has cleared up any concerns about dental radiation and put your mind at ease when it comes time for your next visit!

CEREC.... One Crown, One Visit

CEREC.jpg

At Designer Dental, we strive to be at the forefront of technology. This allows us to improve the quality of your dental care in many different ways.  Our newest investment is the state-of-the art CEREC system. This technology allows us to restore decayed or broken teeth, remove defective amalgam (metal) fillings and place crowns or cosmetic veneers all in just one visit!

The CEREC technology allows Dr. Nagao to take an accurate digital impression of your tooth and use it produce a precise digital restoration right in the office. The materials that the CEREC system uses are the same that a high quality lab would use. One of the major advantages of a CEREC crown is that we don’t have to worry about a temporary crown so we can be much more conservative in the amount of tooth structure removed.

CEREC restorations use strong, anti-abrasive porcelain that matches the structure and translucency of surrounding teeth.  This gives a natural appearance while maintaining the strength needed to support the underlying tooth structure. In addition to looking great, these restorations have the same coefficient of thermal expansion as your natural teeth.  This means that when you eat something hot or cold, your restoration compresses and expands at the same rate as the tooth it’s bonded to, which results in fewer fractures.

Single-visit restorations mean no second appointment to deliver your crown!  As a patient you don’t have a second anesthesia injection, have to wear sensitive temporaries between two appointments, or miss a second day of work just to get your crown put on. 

CEREC is one of many new technologies that can make your experience at the dental office more enjoyable and convenient.  If you have been putting off treatment, now may be the perfect time to experience the benefits that new dental technology can offer you! 

Sedation Dentistry

As dental procedures have become less invasive over the past few decades, it’s no longer necessary to be put to “sleep” for a procedure that might have meant a noon-day nap not so long ago. What should you know about sedation dentistry? What are the benefits, and why is it used?

How Sedation Dentistry Can Help

Sedation dentistry is generally used to create an anxiety-free experience for the patient. As much as 30 percent of the population suffers from “dental phobia” or a fear of going to the dentist, according to the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation (DOCS). This phobia can mean that patients do not receive routine dental care, which can compromise their oral, and overall, health.

Using sedation, a dentist is able to relax and calm a patient before any type of dental procedure. Levels of relaxation vary, from minimal to moderate to deep sedation. Techniques to achieve sedation include traditional methods of inhalation, including “laughing gas” (or nitrous oxide), or intravenous (or IV) sedation – delivered through injection into the blood vessels of the arm or hand. The most common approach to calm patient fears is through “no needle” oral sedation.

How Does It Work?

Sedation lets the patient maintain a level of consciousness, which allows them to cooperate and follow commands, but prevents them from remembering much of what happened. Sedation shortens one’s impression of the amount of time the procedure actually takes – many patients think that procedures undertaken while sedated last “only a few minutes.” This can act as a time-saving benefit because more work is able to be completed in a single appointment, and fewer appointments are needed.

Dentists must receive thorough additional training or even get accredited to practice sedation dentistry, and it is widely believed that any risks of sedation are far outweighed by the risks of you not getting the care you need. So, be sure to ask about sedation during your next appointment. 

Dr. Nagao has undergone advanced training to become certified in sedation dentistry.  He completed his certification through advanced classroom education, direct hands-on learning in a teaching hospital and observation and review by licensed oral surgeons. 

As a sedation dentist, Dr. Nagao can cater to the unique needs of those patients who have dental fears.  Dr. Nagao will deliver the comfortable and personalized care the patient needs with the use of sedation to ensure a positive experience at Designer Dental.

Are your teeth photo ready?

Spring has sprung! That means it is graduation and wedding season! Many people prepare for these two important occasions by getting their appearance ready for all the photos that will be taken of the big event.  Who doesn’t want to look their best in photos that will be shared for years to come? At Designer Dental, we want to help you look and feel your very best.

Have you ever found yourself wishing you had whiter teeth? Maybe you’ve tried whitening before but were less than pleased with the results or maybe you noticed your teeth were very sensitive after using whitening products. Thankfully, we have something that not only provides great results, but also has minimal, if not ZERO, sensitivity!

We began using the GLO whitening system several months ago and our patients and staff are over-the-moon with this product.  Gone are the days where you’re stuck with whitening trays in your mouth for hours on end.  This system provides results in just eight minutes per session with NO trays!  GLO uses an LED light and heat in a closed mouthpiece to activate and accelerate the whitening solution on the teeth. 

 

The GLO system is a 2-step system.  The first step involves an in office treatment.  During this appointment, professional strength whitening agents will be used to “kick-start” the whitening process.  This will give you fast, dramatic results.  The second step is a take home kit that you continue to use between your in office visits to maintain and lighten even more.  

When you come in for the in-office portion, we begin by picking your “starting shade.”  There is significant variation to the shades and colors in teeth, the most common being yellow, brown, orange/red and gray.  Some shades lighten easier than other shades.  A 20 year old female will lighten much easier than a 65 year old male smoker.  However, both age groups can easily see results ranging from 1-3 shades lighter after an in-office session.

Once we’ve picked a shade, we will then isolate the gums with a barrier to prevent any gel from leaking onto the gums. This concentrated gel can slightly “burn” any soft tissue it comes into contact with so we are careful to make sure everything is protected before we start the whitening process. Our in-office gel has a concentration of 30% while the take home gel is only 9%. We will typically do 3 to 5 applications back to back in the office at 8 minutes per session. After treatment is finished, you will take the kit home and continue applications for the next 5 days to finish the whitening process. Continue to use the kit as needed.  If you are a smoker, coffee drinker, frequently drink dark liquids like red wine or dark sauces, you will need more frequent applications to maintain your results.

Glo Actual.png

We hope that we have piqued your interest in this exciting new whitening system we have at Designer Dental.  Next time you are in for a cleaning, ask us if GLO is a good option for you! We would love to get all of our graduates and bridal parties ready to say “cheese."

To reward the patients that are reading our blog, please mention this post and we will give you $100 off your GLO complete whitening system through June 30, 2017.

What’s Up with All that Poking at My Gums During Cleaning?

What’s Up with All that Poking at My Gums During Cleaning?

Have you ever wondered why Dr. Nagao or the hygienist starts rattling off a series of numbers in the middle of your cleaning? 2, 2, 3, 2, 4, 5! What’s going on there? What they are doing is checking the depth of tissue pockets that surround your tooth. It’s a proactive way to identify your risk for periodontal disease, and when done regularly, can help catch it early. Dental probing is a pretty interesting exercise in dentistry, can save you from surgery and extractions, and here’s why.

Dental Probing Catches Problems Early

One reason to visit our office regularly is to identify problems in your mouth that you are completely oblivious to. Subtle changes in the health of our gum tissue can be missed by the naked eye, and some people – even those who visit a dentist regularly – can be prone to an excess buildup of plaque and tartar that can result in gingivitis and periodontal disease. Thankfully, your dental team can catch these changes early through the use of yearly X-rays and the practice of dental probing.

The reason for probing is straightforward. As periodontal disease progresses, the visible markers of the disease (plaque and tartar) migrate down along the side of the tooth into the natural “pocket” between the ridge of the gumline and the tooth’s enamel. This inflames the gum tissue and widens this naturally slim gap between the tooth and gum. As this gap becomes wider, even more bacteria are allowed access to the sensitive tissue fibers along the root’s outer surface, causing more damage. This process may result in bone loss, and the need to extract a tooth. This is why probing is so important. 

The scary thing about Periodontal disease is that it doesn't cause pain.  The first symptoms you may notice are loose teeth and by that time it may be too late to have them.

How Does Dental Probing Work?

“Probing” is quite simple and is accomplished by using a dental “probe” to measure the depth of a tooth’s pocket. The probe acts like a ruler, and has markings along its side measured out in millimeters. To measure the depth of your tooth’s pocket, your dentist gently places the probe into this pocket and makes note of the depth. Those numbers you hear are the millimeter depths of your pocket. Six measurements are taken per tooth, three along the outside, and three along the inside of each tooth. A depth of three millimeters or under without any bleeding is generally accepted as healthy. Above that number, your dentist may suggest more thorough cleanings, including scaling and root planing, or something even more comprehensive if the number is above a five and nearing ten. 

Maintaining pocket health is critical, and proper brushing and flossing can help clear away plaque and prevent the tartar buildup that expands a pocket. Your dentist also plays a critical role in ensuring you’re staying ahead of gum disease, so be sure to keep your regular appointments – particularly if you have been identified as having periodontitis and recommended for more frequent, thorough cleanings. With a good routine and frequent visits to the dentist the only numbers you’ll be hearing moving forward should be 1, 2 and 3! Keep up the good work.

 

Oral Health Care and Baby Teeth

Oral Health Care and Baby Teeth

For those of you who are parents, you can probably remember how stressful life is after you have your first child. Suddenly, the world looks very large, scary and seems filled with all kinds of germs and dangers to our precious little ones!

Cooper, my son, was born in October of 2015, and I couldn’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent on Google. My husband jokingly refers to it as “Dr. Google,” because any time our son coughed, sneezed, or wheezed I was instantly on Google  to see what the best remedy was to cure what ailed him!

However, when his first two bottom teeth came in, I was confident in how to best care for his pearly whites. After all, I AM pretty well-acquainted with teeth!  I started thinking that many new parents may not be familiar with caring for their baby’s teeth! Here are some tips and tricks on how you can start your baby off with a healthy smile, as well as teaching him or her healthy habits to last a lifetime.

 

Most babies don’t get their first teeth until at least 6 months old, but my little sister got her first tooth at 3.5 months old. Every "little one" is different. This chart is a pretty good representation of what sort of time frame you can expect to start seeing some teeth sprout through the gums.

Oral hygiene should begin well before babies cut their first tooth. The best way to care for babies’ gums is by taking a wet wash cloth or gauze and gently wiping their gums, especially after feedings and before bed time.

Once the first baby teeth start to pop up you can graduate to a toothbrush. Choose one with a soft brush, small head and a large handle. At first, all you will need is a wet tooth brush. Tooth paste isn’t really necessary until about 3 years old. Finding a tooth paste with fluoride will help strengthen the enamel and help prevent tooth decay. Brush all around your baby’s teeth including the tongue side, the biting surface, and the cheek side.

Parents should be brushing their children's teeth until the child is old enough to hold the toothbrush, but even then it’s likely a good idea to supervise the process until they can rinse and spit on their own (which is usually around 7 or 8 years of age.) Even at this age it is important to establish flossing as a habit.  Primary teeth usually have much more spacing than adult teeth and can trap food easily.  As a parent, you can gently use your own floss or find flossers for kids that your child can learn to use on their own.

As far as dental visits, many pediatricians recommend seeing a dentist once the first teeth erupt. The visit is more for educating parents about baby tooth care, fluoride, teething, etc. Babies likely won’t tolerate much of an exam, let alone a professional teeth cleaning done by a hygienist, but this visit will start to introduce the idea of the dentist to the child. We will reward them after their visit with a toy from our treasure chest which will leave with a positive image of what to expect at our office.  No matter the age of your child, keep your dentist's phone number on hand in case of emergencies.  Falls, bumps and other accidents that relate to teeth are better handled by a dentist than an emergency room staff. 

Most importantly, try to avoid using trigger words or phrases like “Okay, it’s time to be brave at the dental office!” By implying the child needs to be brave they then begin to wonder what is there to fear. Dentistry has come a long way in the last few decades. While many of us remember the early days of dentistry as being anxiety-ridden and terrifying, technology and advancements in the field have made dentistry much more comfortable. In the event your child needs restorative dental work done (fillings, crowns, or even extractions) we have many tools in our office available to make your child’s experience as pleasant as possible. From laughing gas, to topical numbing jelly, to drill-free fillings with our laser, you can rest assured that your child won’t be white knuckled in the dental chair with faces like this hovering over him! 

Oral health care starts first and foremost with the parents. Set a good example by brushing and flossing often and making routine appointments with your dentist. We know children might be apprehensive about the dentist so we take extra care to make them feel safe and comfortable. After their visit to Designer Dental, we know they'll be grinning from ear to ear and excited to come back and see us!!

- Jessica, Dental Assistant (and Cooper!)

Why Dentistry?

Since we are relaunching our website, I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce myself and explain what I have to offer patients in our practice.

People always ask me why I decided to become a dentist.  To be frank, I can't remember a single event that made my decision for me, but ever since I can remember the very first thing I have always noticed about people is their smile.  I feel that our teeth and eyes are the two features that reveal the most about a person.  This strong interest in smiles naturally led me to a profession where I could help people convey who they truly are with their teeth.

I completed my undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and Kinesiology at Utah State University, the same school where Tami studied, only a few years later.  After graduating from Utah State I attended "the" Ohio State University and graduated with a Doctorate of Dental Surgery.  During my time in Ohio, I had the opportunity to work very closely with an oral surgeon in advanced surgical cases.  I learned to remove complicated third molars, place implants and manage patients during general anesthesia.

While I love Ohio, my wife, Lacey, and I wanted to be closer to our families so we decided to move back west.  We landed in Tucson and fell in love!  I worked as an associate for a few months here in Tucson and then after meeting Dr. Sailer, had the opportunity to join his practice as a partner.  Dr. Sailer has since fully retired to the sandy beaches of Santa Barbara, but continues to be an influence on the type of dentistry we do and the way we treat our patients here at Designer Dental Group.

My promise to you is that you will be treated like family and that our office will meet your highest expectations!      

Josh