Digital dental radiography is certainly a technology which has been around now for over 10 years. It has improved considerably during that time, and more and more dental practices are embracing the technology every day. The truth is however, that almost all dental practices still use ordinary radiography. Some dentists question the necessity of switching to digital radiography, and many cannot afford the initial cost of converting over.

While conventional radiography is a proven means of getting dental x-rays, digital dental radiography offers many added benefits over traditional radiography. The following article represents my personal feedback with digital dental radiography over the course of a 3 year period. My reviews, comments, and findings derive from hands-on practical knowledge with digital sensors, panoramic, and cephalometric radiography.

The advantages of digital radiography are far superior versus the traditional methods of obtaining radiographs. One key difference is the capability to have instantaneous observation of the radiographic images. The images appear on the computers screen within a few moments after taking them. Once the image is on screen, you will have the abilities to zoom in or out, brighten up or darken the images, make annotations to the images, take on-screen dimensions, in addition to a whole slew of other image manipulations. Some digital dental radiography software will allow you to grade the bone density of a patient.

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Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are one of the many ways a dentist helps you restore your teeth to their natural state. However, these dental restorations are typically used when a tooth has a large filling exceeding the natural tooth structure.

In addition, a dentist may advise you to get a dental crown if you previously had canal therapy, or a combination of a root canal and dental filling. You can get a dental crown for cosmetic reasons too. For instance, you can get a gold dental crown, for an extra sparkle in your smile.

Here is what you should expect in a typical dental crown procedure.

Dental Crown Procedure

First, the dentists start by applying local anesthetic near the tooth that requires a crown. Even if you’ve had a root canal and the nerve endings in that tooth are dead in a sense, the dentist will still use an anesthetic. The instruments used to get the crown in place come close the gingivitis tissue making anesthetic necessary.

After numbing your gum, the dentist then fabricates the dental crown using the arches of your maxillary and mandibular arches. This is a major step because the crown must match your dental structure to the highest degree.

Depending on the crown chosen, the dentist may also match several aspects of your teeth. For example, if you go with a full ceramic or porcelain fused meal crown (PFM), the dentist must match the color shade of your teeth. However, for other crowns, such as gold crowns, this is not necessary.

While the dentist prepares the crown, the dental assistant works on alginate impressions for both your upper and lower dental arches. These impressions are poured into a mold, to get a stone impression of your teeth. The mold is what the dentist uses to create a precise crown for your teeth.

Nevertheless, since the crown takes quite some time to fabricate, the dentist prepares a temporary crown you can use before the permanent one arrives from the laboratory. He makes a little impression of the teeth in the same area as the tooth that needs a crown, as well as an impression of the opposing arch. These impressions are used to prepare the temporary crown.

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Mouth Mirror

The dentists use examination instruments to peer into the mouth, look for the cause of the pain, and finally work on the damaged or infected tooth.

The mouth mirror is used to peer into hard-to-view areas of the mouth, like the back and gaps of cavities. The mouth mirror is also used by the dentist to thump a tooth to see if it draws pain.

The dental explorer has a hook that services a scraper for minor plaque and tartar buildup. It is also used to sensate the tooth and see if it produces any tingling sensation from the patient. The dental explorer’s primary purpose is to determine if there is any tooth decay building up on the tooth.

The periodontal probe is used to measure pocket depths in-between teeth. This probe is usually used on adult patients, since they are more prone to periodontitis. The probe is also used on patients who wear braces and Invisalign to see any improvements on their bite.

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Dental Light

First and foremost, curing lights do not use ultraviolet light. Though the original models employed UV rays, as the dangers of this were realized the design was changed. Instead models today use only visible light. Specifically, they use blue light. While the color of the light seems rather unimportant and only an aesthetic feature, it is far from it. The scientific reason behind it’s use is that to harden, resin must begin to polymerize. This can be accomplished by exposing it to light frequencies between 450 and 490 nanomoeters. As any science buff will tell you, this is the precise wavelength of blue light.

What Precautions Must be Taken?
While dental curing lights are not inherently dangerous, there are several precautions that should be taken. First off, the biggest danger of light exposure is damage to the eyes. Therefore, it is essential for both patient and doctor to wear some form of eye protection. Second, light generates heat. While most lights should not cause an issue, some are powerful enough to cause burning. For this reason it is important to make sure the light is not excessively powerful. Lastly, as each resin has it’s own characteristics, each has unique needs. To guarantee a proper and thorough polymerization dentists must understand the exact wavelength his particular resin responds to. Failure to do so could nullify the procedure.

What Types of Procedures are Curing Lights Uses In?
Dental curing lights are employed in a variety of procedures that use acrylics and other resins. The majority of its use, however, is seen in two procedures-sealants and fillings.

Dental Restorations-Dental restorations, more commonly known as fillings, are procedures in which a missing portion of a tooth is filled in with a synthetic material. This technique is used in order to improve the functionality, enhance the aesthetics or restore the integrity of the tooth. They are generally divided into the two subcategories of direct and indirect restorations.

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The dental industry can sound like a foreign language with its long list of names and terms of dental instruments. If interested in pursuing a career in dentistry, or if interested due to an upcoming dental procedure, there are many terms to know.
Names and Terms of Dental Instruments: Examination Instruments

Drills: Used to cut away at tooth and or artificial tooth material.

Probe: Measures gum pocket depths to evaluate the health of the gum tissue.

Dental Mirror: Allows mirror image view of teeth where view might otherwise not be available due to teeth and mouth positioning.

Retractors and Mouth Props: Retractors allow the dentist to pull a portion of the mouth away to better allow access to another area of the mouth, such as a molar. Props keep the mouth open during procedures.

Burs: Smooth away rough edges of teeth.
Names and Terms of Dental Instruments: Restorative Instruments

Pluggers: Generally used in root canal treatments to plug the nerve canal once the nerve is extracted.

Periodontal Scalers: Used to clean and remove items between teeth.

Excavators: Used to eliminate (usually) soft, rotten decay within the mouth.

Curettes: Very similar to scalers but are meant more for gum work.

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Dentist Syringe

There is something ominous about a needle. Be it the long point or the unnerving thought of your skin being penetrated no one likes to get injections. Another common fear is going to the dentist. When these two subjects are combined into the single category of dental syringes discomfort is a guarantee. Though getting a dental injection is never fun, for some people their aversion crosses the line of displeasure and enters the realm of phobia. In fact, according to the Adult Dental Health Survey, 8% of patients report phobic emotions relating to dental syringes. This compares to only 5% who report a fear of needles in general.

Avoiding Pain
The unfortunate situation this group of individuals find themselves in is somewhat of a catch 22. Although they fear the prick of a needle they know how painful a dental procedure without anesthetics can be. The wise choice is to pick the injection. However, pain is not inevitable. In fact, there are a number of tips and techniques both patients and doctors can follow to reduce the discomfort sometimes involved.

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The first must-have characteristic is the material must be smooth mixing. Materials which are difficult or chunky when mixed take more time and effort to completely mix which leads to unnecessary user fatigue by the end of an average workday. Additionally, smooth mixing tend to be easier to inject into the mouth as well. This provides greater control for operators which minimizes wastes by creating a more precise flow.

The second must-have characteristic of dental impression materials relates to how patients engage with them. Many lower quality materials carry a strong chemical or plastic smell which is off-putting to patients. Many people do not enjoy visiting their dentists anyway so any additional stressor, such as bad smells, can further lengthen the time between visits. The taste of the materials must be considered as well. Poor tasting materials can make it difficult for patients to sit still which can lead to inaccurate molds. An odorless, tasteless materials should be a high priority during the decision-making process.

Another key factor to consider is elasticity prior to removal. Without high elasticity prior to removal dentists run the risk of both poor initial molds and damage to the mold during the removal process. High elasticity during removal combined with proper hardness following removal is essential. This is the only way to minimize negative deformation. Only the best dental impression materials offer the proper levels of hardness during all phases of creating and using the mold.

Dental impression materials must not only create a high-quality mold but the mold must be able to be used effectively. To ensure this, it is important the materials are conducive to detailed modeling with plaster. Generally, if the materials offer the proper level of hardness and detail it will be conducive to plaster as long as the materials do not stick to the plaster which can be caused by small chemical reactions.

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As for orthodontic devices being used by dentists, the two most popular are the braces and retainers. Braces use an arch wire to push and pull misaligned teeth to certain directions to “straighten” out the contour and position of the teeth. The standard pull/push force (from the combined utility of both the wires and brackets) will basically move the teeth by a standard 1mm proximity each month, depending on both the orthodontist’s preference and the patient’s tolerance to pain. People with newly installed braces are expected to exhibit moderate to severe pain and numbness in the first few weeks of having their first braces installed. This is caused by the gradual, coercive force that impels the teeth to move from their original position by unnatural means.

There are different types of braces that will suit almost any malocclusion, each with a different push/pull force and aesthetic appearance. These are:

The Usual Metal Braces: considered as the most reliable and “strongest” type of braces with regards to “push/pull” effect, these are the types of braces that most dentists recommend. Modern braces have smaller brackets and a slightly engaging appearance, as compared to the older models that have brackets that cover the entire tooth. Recent advancements in technology have made these appliances cheaper for the masses, making them a popular choice on both teenagers and adults who do not want to spend additional money on Invisalign braces.

Ceramic Braces: ceramic braces, in contrast to metal braces, use purely composite material without any hint of metallic ingredients. These types of braces are more expensive and have a lesser “push/pull” force, as compared to metal braces. One clear advantage though, is that they look aesthetically pleasing (sometimes even unnoticeable), as they can be tinted to mimic the teeth.

Invisalign Braces: these types of braces are recommended to people who have very minimal malocclusions. These types of braces are made out of plastic, so they don’t stain and are also unnoticeable like ceramic braces. However, the price of Invisalign braces is quite hefty on the pocket, and losing these means having to pay for replacements. There have been a lot of cases with people losing their Invisalign braces, due to the fact that these can be removed from the teeth, unlike metal and ceramic braces, that are latched on to the teeth. Invisalign braces are currently becoming the most preferred type of braces by dentists in both Europe and the United States because of the same “push/pull” power with metal braces and because they are easily detachable, so the patient’s eating habits are not compromised.

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Dental Drill

The drill is one of the reasons why some people are afraid to step into a dentist’s office for a checkup. It may have been because of a painful experience from it while not properly numbed or simply because they are terrified of such a thing being used in their mouth. This is where sedation dentistry comes in so the patient (you) will be completely relaxed while the dental procedures are being carried out. However, it should be a lot better to conquer your fear of the drill or it may keep you from visiting the dentist altogether.

If you’re fear come from uncertainty in how the drill works, then getting familiar with it should be the first thing you should do. For this step, it’s a good idea to ask your dentist to show you the drill and explain how it works. Dentists are familiar with techniques on how to make people comfortable with the treatment.

People fear different aspects of the drill and depending on what yours is, there are ways to address it. If you are afraid of the sound it makes (associating the sound of the drill with pain) then you could try using music players and good earphones that don’t fall off to block the sound. To make yourself feel relaxed and comfortable during the treatment, playing your favorite music helps a lot.

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Sickle Probe

The most common dentists instruments are the mirror and the probe. The probe is also known as a dental explorer, or a sickle probe. This, combined with the mirror are the most effective ways of doing a check up on someone’s teeth. The mirror has an angle just before the surface which allows the dentist to see all around the different teeth from the outside of the mouth, and with the sickle probe the dentist is able to poke around the teeth to make sure that there are no cavities or loose teeth around the mouth.

There are also many other dentists instruments that are used in the practice. The dentists instruments used depend on what procedure is taking place and how it is being done. For example, if there is something that needs to be applied to the teeth, the dentist will use a tool which supplies concentrated compressed air, drying the teeth very quickly.

For any sort of procedure where there is being something removed or put in, a local anaesthesia is used. This is one of the dentists instruments that almost completely relieves pain inside the mouth. This is implemented by an injection to the gums around the area of work, which makes the area go numb, allowing the dentist to complete their work without the patient squirming because of the pain.

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