Dental Tips Blog


Bitewing X-Rays: What do they tell us?

Posted in Digital X-Rays

For the majority of dental patients, bitewing x-rays are taken once a year during your routine dental check-up. Although bitewings are essential for diagnostic and treatment needs, most people find themselves wondering why these films are taken on a regular basis. Here are some important things you should know about why your dentist needs to take the 4 to 7 films once a year:

Bitewings show the level of bone around your teeth.

Our bone levels determine whether or not our teeth will last an entire lifetime. Bone loss caused by gum disease can normally be halted if the right treatment is implemented in time. 

Bitewings indicate where decay is beginning to form between the teeth.

A visual exam alone is not enough to check for cavities between your teeth. Your dentist needs to see these areas on an x-ray to determine if early signs of cavities are present. The earlier the decay is found, the less invasive treatment (and more affordable) your treatment needs become. In fact, the earliest forms of cavities may be able to be treated without a filling! 

Bitewings reveal large areas of calculus (tartar) for your hygienist.

Large deposits of calculus can cause gum disease as well as bone loss around the teeth. Although most of this is felt through instrumentation, being able to visualize buildup on x-ray films can increase the thoroughness of your cleaning. 

Sometimes bitewings are used to monitor eruption patterns.

In younger children, bitewings reveal which of the back teeth are beginning to exfoliate (fall out) and be replaced by permanent ones. They can also show when adult teeth are missing.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David Janash, Park South Dentistry



When it Hurts to Chew on a Tooth

A common dental ailment is discomfort, sensitivity or pain when pressure is applied to a tooth during chewing or biting on food. Usually this pain goes away when there is no pressure applied, causing people to eat their food on the other side of their mouth. Unfortunately this does not solve the problem, and the underlying cause can continue to get worse and become more painful each and every time the tooth is used to chew.

There are typically 3 causes that contribute to pain when you bite down:

Gum Disease

Each tooth has a ligament around the root to hold it into place. When gum disease exists, this ligament becomes strained and overworked due to a lack of healthy bone and gum support. When the ligament works overtime, it becomes stretched out, bruised and sore when the tooth is used. There is usually evidence of mobility in the tooth as well.

Tooth Decay and Abscessed Teeth

Untreated tooth decay will quickly spread into the nerve chamber of the tooth. This severe infection will cause abscesses to develop at the tip of the root, which drains out the side of the gums. Applying force to the tooth puts pressure on the abscessed area and surrounding tissues.

Sinus pressure

Believe it or not, the upper teeth frequently become sore if you are also experiencing concurrent sinus allergies, pressure or infections. When you chew on the teeth, the roots of the teeth push against the sinus cavity and cause additional discomfort, creating the appearance of tooth pain.

How can you find out what is causing the pain when you chew? A quick examination by your dentist and possibly an x-ray can quickly determine the cause and if any treatment is needed.

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