X-rays in the Digital Age

In office equipment, telephones, home entertainment and cars - digital technology is everywhere. Dentists are using digital technology to provide even better dental care and offer more accurate diagnoses. You still have to pose for an image of your teeth.

But digital technology lets a dentist capture that image instantly on a computer and enlarge it to almost any size. If a dentist wants to copy your x-ray, with your consent, it can be printed or e-mailed anywhere in the world in just a fraction of a second.

Because digital x-rays are saved, stored and shared electronically, your dentist may cut down on paper files. That could mean no more file cabinets filled with paper files and out-dated x-ray films. This efficiency is another reason why digital x-rays are the choice of many of today's dentists. Today's advancements in digital technology are making life and dentistry better for everyone.

Perio Screen & Computers

You'll find it everywhere today - in telephones, cars, home appliances, you name it. I'm talking about computer technology. Like other professionals, your dentist may rely on computer technology to care for your teeth.

One of the newest wrinkles in digital dental care is a computer program for checking your teeth. It's called periodontal screening software, and uses voice-activated technology.

Your dentist wears a headset with a microphone while measuring the pocket depth of each tooth. The computer records the dentist's voice reciting those measurements, then produces a color graphic displaying those measurements - healthy gums in one color and problem areas in another color.

The graphic helps you understand your oral health and plan any necessary treatment. Then your dentist stores the graphic, prints it or e-mails to a specialists needed.


Dental sealants act as a barrier, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. The sealants are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.

How does a sealant help prevent decay?

A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth - premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.

Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and food.

Is sealant application a complicated procedure?

Sealants are easy for your dentist to apply, and it takes only a few minutes to seal each tooth. The teeth that will be sealed are cleaned. Then the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution to help the sealant adhere to the tooth. The sealant is then "painted" onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.

As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and usually last several years before a reapplication is needed. During your regular dental visits, your dentist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary.

Sealants are just for kids, right?

The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are obvious candidates. But adults can benefit from sealants as well.

Key ingredients in preventing tooth decay and maintaining a healthy mouth are twice-daily brushing with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste; cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners; eating a balanced diet and limiting snacks; and visiting your dentist regularly. Ask your dentist about whether sealants can put extra power behind your prevention program.


For over five decades, the American Dental Association has continuously endorsed the fluoridation of community water supplies and the use of fluoride-containing products as safe and effective measures for preventing tooth decay. Fluoride and Fluoridation contains resources that provide important facts and answer a myriad of questions. New information and resources will be added to this area as they become available. In the following sections, you will find the latest information about fluoride and fluoridation.

Periodontal Scaling & Root Planing

Root planing and scaling is one of the most effective ways to treat gum disease before it becomes severe. Root planing and scaling cleans between the gums and the teeth down to the roots. Your dentist may need to use a local anesthetic to numb your gums and the roots of your teeth.

Some dentists and dental hygienists will use an ultrasonic tool for the planing and scaling. This tool is not as uncomfortable as a standard scraping tool, but not all cleanings require this type of tool.

Your dentist may place antibiotic fibers into the pockets between your teeth and gums. The antibiotic will help speed healing and prevent infection. The dentist will remove the fibers about 1 week after the procedure.

What To Expect After Treatment

If anesthesia is used, your lips and gums may remain numb for a few hours. Planing and scaling causes little or no discomfort.

Why It Is Done

Root planing and scaling is done when gums have either started to pull away from the teeth or the roots of the teeth have hard mineral deposits (tartar) on them.

How Well It Works

If you maintain good dental care after the procedure, the progression of gum disease should stop. And your gums will heal and become firm and pink again.

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