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The Importance Of Dental X-Rays

July 22nd, 2019

Dentists want to provide the best possible dental care to their patients, but a visual examination doesn't tell them everything they need to know. Thanks to dental X-rays, dentists can accurately diagnose and treat dental problems early before they become more serious. And if after examining your mouth and reviewing these images, your dentist finds no cavities or growth issues, you can rest assured he or she has seen the whole picture.

Valuable Diagnostic Tool

X-rays, also called radiographs, give your dentist the ability to see between and inside your teeth. He can also view the tip of your roots and bone underneath your gums – places not normally visible to the naked eye. Although they are used as part of a routine examination to rule out dental disease, X-rays also aid your dentist in diagnosing any specific or isolated dental problems you might be experiencing.

Radiographs are used to check for cavities and evaluate the extent of decay. And because some X-rays show the root of the tooth, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), the presence of any cysts, abscesses and other masses can be diagnosed. Congenitally missing or impacted teeth such as wisdom teeth are often identified this way, and the presence and extent of bone loss due to periodontal disease is easily seen through dental X-rays as well.

Types of X-rays

Bitewing, periapical and panoramic radiographs are the most common X-rays used in the dental office. During routine exams, your dentist may take two to four bitewing x-rays – which show the crown portions of your teeth – to check for early signs of decay between your teeth. When he wants to get a good look at your teeth's bone height or root tips, periapical X-rays provide the best view. A panoramic X-ray, according to the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), is taken from outside of your mouth and produces an image of the entire oral cavity on one large X-ray. Because the image shows all of the teeth, as well as the upper and lower jaws and sinus areas, this type of X-ray can identify impaction, cysts, tumors, jaw disorders and bone irregularities.

Other radiographs include occlusal X-rays, which are occasionally taken in children to evaluate their developing teeth; and cephalometric X-rays, used by orthodontists when planning orthodontic treatment.

How Often Are X-rays Needed?

Everyone's oral health varies, and as a result, the dentist will evaluate your needs and recommend an X-ray schedule accordingly. If you're a new patient, the dentist may advise taking a full series of X-rays or panoramic image to assess your current oral health state, and use this as a baseline going forward. As you continue your regular checkup visits, fewer X-rays are needed to monitor the status of your oral health.

Dental X-rays Safety

Because X-ray machines and other sources of dental radiographs are designed to minimize radiation, these processes are safe and your exposure is negligible. Many offices, in fact, are now using digital X-rays, which further reduces radiation exposure. Nonetheless, the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site recommends patients have the added protection of a leaded apron to cover the abdominal area and a leaded collar to protect the thyroid. Always let your dentist know if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, though necessary X-rays don't have to be avoided as long as you're wearing a fitted lead apron and thyroid collar.

Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly are important home care practices that safeguard your dental health. However, dental checkups and routine X-rays are also necessary for a healthy mouth and to ensure that you keep your teeth picture perfect for a lifetime.


Article by by Donna Pleis,

When Should a Child Have Their First Dental Visit?

July 10th, 2019

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Let’s be real. Taking your child to their first dental visit? Probably not top on your list of fun ways to spend the afternoon. You know it is important to schedule regular dental exams for babies and children, but...really? Do you have to?

Some of the questions that might go through your head before you make that first call to the dentist: When exactly should I schedule my child’s first dental visit? Or: Why do I take my child to the dentist when her baby teeth just fall out anyway? Or even: How in the world do babies sit still enough for a dental exam?

The thought of scheduling a dental exam for a baby makes many parents break out in hives, but there is a bright spot to all this worry. Your child’s first dental visit is actually pretty quick and easy, and over the long term, establishing a dental home early helps reduce stress for both you and your child.

Your Child’s First Dental Visit Before Age One

If you aren’t sure when to schedule your child’s first dental visit, you’re not alone. University of Michigan Health surveyed 2,000 parents with kids under age five and found that over half (55%) didn’t get any instruction from their baby’s pediatrician about when to start dental exams. Many parents just don’t know enough about that first dental visit or what to expect when they arrive with their child.

To set the record straight once and for all, here’s the rub on dental exams for babies and children:

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a baby’s first dental exam happen within six months after the first tooth appears, but no later than the child’s first birthday.

The majority of children get their first baby tooth by six months old, but some kids stay toothless until fourteen or fifteen months. So if your child is a late bloomer in the tooth department, don’t wait. If you haven’t seen any teeth yet, schedule your child’s first dental visit for around the same time as their one-year well child check.

The Long Road to a Set of Healthy Chompers

As with most things in the crazy world of parenting, we play the long game here. When it comes to dental exams for babies, starting early builds a solid foundation for lifelong oral health. A child’s first dental exam is important, even though her mouth is still pretty empty of pearly whites.

During your child’s first visit, the dentist checks for early signs of decay. Early tooth decay is tough to spot in adults, let alone in young children with itty bitty teeth. Don’t wait until you notice problems - start those trips to the dentist at an early age.

At your child’s first dental visit, the dentist also checks for healthy growth and development by examining bite, gums, and overall structure of the mouth and jaw. And as a bonus, you might score some quality tips for soothing a teething baby and saving your sleep-deprived sanity.

What to Expect at Your Child’s First Dental Visit

A dental exam for a baby typically lasts about 30-45 minutes. Sometimes, this includes a gentle cleaning, but don’t be surprised if a cleaning doesn’t happen during the first visit.

At your child’s first dental visit, expect to answer questions about his or her medical history. Bring a list of any medications, the name and contact number of your pediatrician, and information about your dental insurance.

At your child’s first dental visit, the dentist also checks for healthy growth and development by examining bite, gums, and overall structure of the mouth and jaw. And as a bonus, you might score some quality tips for soothing a teething baby and saving your sleep-deprived sanity.

If you are nervous, it helps to write down questions beforehand so you don’t forget them in the hustle and bustle.

Tips for a Positive Trip to Your Child’s Dentist

If your child turns into a banshee during new experiences, don’t worry. Experts at Mouth Healthy for the ADA remind parents that dental professionals expect a child’s first dental visit to be a little rough.

“If your child cries a little or wiggles during the exam, don’t worry,” say the experts at Mouth Healthy. “It’s normal, and your dental team understands this is a new experience for your child.”


It’s also okay to sit your baby or young child on your lap for their first dental visit. Even if a child is capable of sitting alone in the dental chair, a lot of parents opt for the lap the first time around.

Many dentists recommend scheduling dental exams for babies and young children in the morning, when most kids are rested and more cooperative.

Also remember: a calm parent is one of the best recipes for a successful trip to the dentist. If your personally panic within a two-mile radius of the dentist’s office, take steps to reduce your own stress before and during the appointment.

Does Insurance Cover Dental Exams for Babies?

And finally, the pocketbook. Raising a child is expensive, but at least going to the dentist doesn’t have to be.

Most dental insurance plans have low or no out-of-pocket costs for routine checkups and cleanings. Dental exams for babies usually fall under this category of “routine care.” This means that unless the dentist finds cavities or other unexpected problems, you probably pay little or nothing for your child’s first dental visit.

We also offer a in-house Membership Club dental plan for those who do not have dental insurance which covers children and adults. Please call us for more info at 206-575-1551.




Article by Cassidy at DDWA.

Closed for the 4th of July!

July 2nd, 2019

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will be Closed starting Thursday, July 4th to

Monday, July 8th. We will be back in the office at

9 am on Tuesday, July 9th, 2019.

For dental emergencies please call

Dr. Stephens at 206-575-1122

(Located on the 3rd floor, #306)

Summer Basket Winner!

July 1st, 2019

Congrats Terri!! Summer Basket Winner!

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