What do you say to patients who have concerns about dental x-rays?
Periodontal (gum) disease is a silent disease because without periodontal charting of the gums people often would not know it is present until it reaches an advanced stage. Periodontal charting is used to assess overall dental health by checking every surface of each tooth, and the condition of the gums in every location of the mouth. With the dental probe I measure the depth of pockets—because deeper pockets are hard for patients to clean and they collect debris that can lead to periodontal disease. The deeper the pocket, the deeper I need to clean the surface of the tooth that resides below the visible gum line. Pocket depth also tells me how healthy the bone is in that location.
When we do charting, each tooth has six readings, and some surfaces on a single tooth can have better numbers than other surfaces. We check all the way around the tooth and occasionally find that the gum on one side of the tooth is completely fine while on another side of the tooth the gum is less healthy and the gum pocket is deeper as well.
We measure gum pocket depth in millimeters, and a measurement that is anywhere from one to three millimeters is typically perfectly healthy—which is what we like to see. When the pocket gets just a little bit deeper it prevents the patients from being able to clean the area themselves. These pockets are just too deep for the patient to reach and the pockets breed periodontal disease.
With diligent visits to the hygienist and daily maintenance it is possible for pocket depths to improve over time. It is a joint effort between me as the dental hygienist and the patient to maintain their overall oral health throughout the year.
Jessica Sapara, Dental Hygienist
West Park Dental
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Do you find yourself waking at night gasping for breath? Are you exhausted all day long because you just can't get a good night's sleep?
'Apnea' is a Greek word meaning "without breath"; people who have apnea literally stop breathing in their sleep. A cessation of breath lasting for 10 seconds in adults, or 2 and 1/2 breath cycles in a child, is the clinical definition of sleep apnea.
X-rays are used for diagnostic purposes, and to protect the patient from oral health problems that could arise—or are currently present—which would not be discovered without the use of this important diagnostic tool.