Why are dental examinations and x-rays so important?

Dental conditions can change rapidly. Unfortunately, tooth decay and gum disease and even abscessed teeth often don’t hurt. This is especially true with gum disease but tooth decay as well. The reason I say unfortunately is that if it hurt you would do something about it. Often times clients mistake no pain in the teeth and no bleeding gums when they brush as everything is fine. Virtually every day that I see clients we find something significant that the client was unaware of. The earlier we find a problem the easier it is to correct. My focus is on prevention of disease, and minimally invasive bio-compatible dentistry. Often times a client can prevent problems by making a few changes, such as: changing the way they clean their teeth, a diet change or taking anti inflammatory foods and herbs. The key to doing that is early detection. Find it before the problem is not reversible. Once problem is not reversible, we want to find it before it is a big problem. In the early stages the problem is easier to correct and less expensive. Even if it is more advanced when we find it we can often prevent bigger problems such as root canals and/or surgery. Again, the key is early detection. Early detection depends on having a dental team that focuses on excellence in diagnosis. Yesterday a patient told our receptionist, Kendra, that it is too expensive to come in twice a year for an examination and preventive care. I completely understand that. The challenge is that I saw several clients last week that had not come in for one to three years. Some of these people needed significant dental treatment. Most of it was preventable. So much can change in a relatively short time in the mouth. The best dental insurance isn’t Washington Dental Insurance. It is brushing your teeth and gums at least 2 times a day. Floss your teeth at least one time a day. Avoid refined sugars. Come to the dental office two times or more per year for examination and preventive care. It is not a guarantee you won’t have problems but it absolutely minimizes them. If there are problems we can prioritize them to reduce the impact of said problems.
Yesterday I had a client who refused x-rays. I understand why. I am sensitive about x-ray myself. I do not let TSA x-ray me at the airport because a hand search is simple. I have taken precautions to make our dental x-rays as safe as possible. I got one of the first digital x rays systems in Seattle in 1996 because it reduced x-ray exposure 80-90%. By getting this system I was able to eliminate the toxic developing and fixing solutions from our office so we don’t have to breathe them or dispose them into the environment. The state of Washington inspector visited us last fall and found our system to be working perfectly. He commented that our system put out about 40% less than even other digital systems.
We use a lead apron to cover potentially sensitive areas. We even have a green tea extract that has been reported to have protective effect when exposed to x-ray.

Here is an actual patient x-ray showing what can be found underneath. None of these things hurt but the abscess is dumping toxins into the body. The decay is almost to the nerve. It looks like three root canals would be necessary with build ups and crowns. The back tooth might need to be removed. So there is a real benefit to having x-rays at the recommended interval which I customize to each patient depending on their risk factors. If you ever have questions about the reason why we make a recommendation do not hesitate to ask.
Be well,
Richard Stickney


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