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Are Dental X-rays Safe for Kids?

Children’s mouths are growing and changing constantly, and a visual inspection alone cannot tell your dentist everything they may need to know. Eventually every child will need a dental X-ray. 

But are dental X-rays safe, and should your child have them taken? 

Facts Surrounding X-rays

You can rest assured knowing that today’s dental X-rays are safer than ever before. So safe, in fact, that the amount of radiation a child is exposed to in a bite-wing X-ray (image of the back molars) is roughly equivalent to the amount of radiation they are exposed to in the environment on a daily basis.

Many dental offices today use digital X-rays, which have roughly 80% less radiation than conventional film X-rays, so the effects may be even lower.

How X-rays Are Beneficial

The benefits from obtaining X-rays, which include diagnosing decay, pathology, or any abnormalities, far outweigh the risks of being exposed to this minimal dose of radiation.

And while X-rays are proven to be relatively harmless, you can ensure your child is even safer by making sure they wear a lead apron with a lead thyroid collar to further minimize any potential impact. 

Since all children are different, their need for X-rays will vary as well. Often times, an X-ray is utilized to help your dentist diagnose developments that cannot be viewed through a visual examination.

Children are generally more susceptible to tooth decay than adults, and children with a high risk of tooth decay are recommended to have X-rays taken every six months.

Lower risk children may require X-rays less frequently (as seldom as every two or three years), so you can significantly cut the number of your child’s X-rays by promoting good oral health at home.

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Are My Gums Receding? And Why?

Progressive change can be difficult to notice, especially when it occurs to us and not someone else. Changes occurring along our gum line certainly fall into this category, and since recession is measured in millimeters it's especially easy to miss.

So, how much gum erosion is normal, and what causes it? Let's take a look.

Is Gum Recession Normal?

Gum recession is often considered a normal part of aging. Even the expression "long in the tooth" stems from our gum line receding and exposing more of our teeth as we age.

However, there is nothing normal about gum recession. Luckily, for most of us it can be prevented.

Rather than keep things as they are, embracing gum recession as the well-paid price of wisdom, be vigilant against gum erosion! 

Though there are a host of factors that contribute to the erosion of your gumline, a vast majority are preventable.  

The Biggest Offenders

  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Over-vigorous, or improper brushing
  • Aggressive flossing
  • Exposure to acids in sports and energy drinks
  • Tobacco use
  • The frequent use of whitening products

All the above causes of gum loss can be prevented.

All of them.  

If you grind your teeth at night, wear a mouth guard.

If you brush as though you're sanding down the statue of David, learn proper technique from your dentist, or from a video online.

Bleeding a lot when flossing? You're not slicing cheese - go easy, there, friend!  

If you smoke, drink too many energy drinks, or chew tobacco, cut back, or stop altogether. None of that stuff is good for you in any way imaginable.

And lastly, if you're trying to look like a movie star by abusing whitening strips, you can stop now. Your teeth have got to be super-white already!

Be Proactive

What's next? How can you tell if your gums are receding faster than the Amazon rainforest?

Well, the most proactive step is to visit your dentist. In fact, if you're going regularly, your dentist has been monitoring the recession for some years now.

If you've ever noticed your dentist poking around in your mouth, all while reciting numbers to the hygienist, they’re probably doing two things: measuring the recession of your gums, and gauging the depths of your gum pockets. Both speak to the health of your gum line.

So, the next time you hear your dentist reading off what seem like lottery number, just ask about the health of your gums … your dentist will be happy to keep you in the loop.

The first sign of gum recession is usually tooth sensitivity, so be on the lookout. Reduce, or eliminate the above discussed habits, and ask your dentist how you're doing in terms of taking care of your gums.

With a little bit of knowledge and proactive behavior, no one will ever say you're long in the tooth. And, that's a good thing!

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4 Methods for Non-Surgical Bite Correction

If you’ve ever spoken with someone about correcting an underbite, your conversation no doubt centered on the painful idea of having to break the jawbone. Maybe you discussed the weeks on a liquid diet because of a jaw that was then wired shut, and the application of braces both before and after surgery.

Luckily, not all bite corrections warrant surgery! Here are four non-surgical methods for various bite corrections.

1. Expanders:  Expanders are often used to correct a crossbite – a situation where either the upper or lower bite is more narrow than the other.  

An expander helps adjust the spread of a child’s teeth so the bite matches evenly on all sides. Expanders resemble orthodontic retainers, and include a screw that is tightened nightly to spread your bite to the prescribed measurements.

2. Braces: You may have had them as a kid, and you might need them again. Seeing an adult with braces isn’t really an odd sight anymore, and given that many of us didn’t wear our retainers as we were instructed, it’s not much of a surprise.

Braces can often alleviate a lot of bite concerns, and if your bite is only slightly off, solutions like Invisalign can be an even less intrusive corrective.

3. Bonding, Implants and Reconstruction: Braces and expanders not cutting it? If you’ve experienced dental trauma in the past, or just weren’t on top of your oral health care routine, you might need a bit more help. Have no fear … simple bonding, implants and reconstruction that could include new crowns and even veneers can deliver the solution you’re seeking.

4. Veneers: Speaking of veneers, it’s amazing how even an underbite can be cosmetically altered so the teeth give the appearance of possessing no underbite.

There is a good degree of artistry with this approach, and when done correctly creative placement of veneers on the upper jaw mimics a jaw in proper alignment. 

Fixing a bad bite doesn’t have to be fraught with expense and pain. Speak with your dentist and orthodontist about the options available to you, and before you know it, you’ll be looking and feeling a whole lot better. 

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