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Dental X-rays: The Inside Story

May 27th, 2020

We’re all friends here, so if you sometimes feel a bit nervous before your orthodontic appointments, no judging! Ask us about any worries you might have. We are happy to explain procedures, equipment, and your orthodontic options so you know exactly what is going on during treatment. And if X-rays are a concern, we can put your mind at ease here as well.

What Exactly Are X-rays?

Sometimes patients feel reluctant about the process of imaging because X-rays are a kind of radiation. But the fact is, radiation is all around us. We are exposed to radiation naturally from our soil and water, sun and air, as well as from modern inventions such as cell phones, Wi-Fi, and air travel.

Why is radiation so common? Because matter throughout the universe constantly gives off energy, and the energy that is emitted is called radiation. This radiation takes two forms—as particles (which we don’t need to consider!) and as traveling rays. This second type is known as electromagnetic radiation, created by photons traveling in regular waves at the speed of light.

We are exposed to electromagnetic radiation every day, because, whether we can see them or not, these different wavelengths and frequencies create various forms of light. Radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays are all part of the electromagnetic light spectrum.

Different types of radiation on this spectrum have different wavelengths and different frequencies, and produce different amounts of energy. Longer wavelengths mean lower frequencies and less energy. Because X-rays have shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies than, for example, radio waves and visible light, they have more energy.

How Do Dental X-rays Work?

An X-ray machine produces a very narrow beam of X-ray photons. This beam passes through the body and captures images of our teeth and jaws on special film or digital sensors inside the mouth (intraoral X-rays), or on film or sensors located outside the mouth (extraoral X-rays). These X-ray images are also known as radiographs.

Why are X-rays able to take pictures inside our bodies? Remember that higher energy we talked about earlier? This energy enables X-rays to pass through the softer, less dense parts of our bodies, which are seen as gray background in a radiograph. But some substances in our bodies absorb X-rays, such as the calcium found in our bones and teeth. This is why they show up as sharp white images in radiographs. 

There are many different types of dental X-rays used in orthodontics, including:

  • Occlusal X-rays, which show the entire arch of teeth in the upper or lower jaw.
  • Panoramic X-rays, which use a special machine to rotate around the head to create a complete two-dimensional picture of teeth and jaws.
  • Cephalometric X-rays, which show the patient’s entire profile, and the position and development of the teeth and jaws.
  • Cone Beam Computed Tomography, an external device which uses digital images to create a three-dimensional picture of the teeth and jaws.

Why Do We Need X-rays?

You might have noticed that these X-rays, unlike, for example, typical bitewing X-rays, don’t take images of individual teeth. That is because orthodontists deal with the teeth in relationship to each other and to the structures around them.

Beautifully aligned teeth and a healthy bite are the visible result of your orthodontic work, but there’s a lot going on above and below the surface that needs to be discovered and taken into account before your treatment even begins. X-rays help us evaluate:

  • The size, shape, and position of your teeth, including impacted teeth and wisdom teeth
  • The size, position, and health of your roots throughout treatment
  • The size and shape of your jaw bones, and how they affect your teeth alignment and bite
  • Your progress during different phases of treatment

How Do Orthodontists Make Sure Your X-rays Are As Safe As They Can Be?

First of all, the amount of radiation you are exposed to with a dental X-ray is very small. In fact, a typical panoramic X-ray provides roughly the same amount of radiation we are exposed to through our natural surroundings in just one day. Even so, Dr. Gill and our team are committed to making sure patients are exposed to as little radiation as possible.

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging have been designed to make sure all patients have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. We ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • When treating children, we set exposure times based on each child’s size and age.

And now that we’ve talked about some things you might like to know,

Please Let Us Know If . . .

  • You are changing orthodontists and have had previous orthodontic X-rays taken. Ask to have your older X-rays sent to our office so we have a complete record of your orthodontic history. (With digital X-ray technology, this transfer can be accomplished with e-mail!)
  • You’re pregnant, or think you might be pregnant. Even though radiation exposure is very low with dental radiographs, unless there is a dental emergency, dentists and doctors recommend against X-rays for pregnant patients.

X-rays play an important part in helping us make sure your orthodontic treatment provides you with a lifetime of beautiful and healthy smiles. If you have any concerns, contact our Fargo, Wahpeton, ND office. When it comes to making sure you’re comfortable with all of our procedures, including any X-rays that might be necessary, we’re happy to give you all the inside information!

Damon® Smile: What You Should Know

May 20th, 2020

Contrary to popular belief, not all braces are created equal. More importantly, not all braces look like the hulking headgear found in 1980s teen movies. If you’re embarking on an orthodontic journey, that should give you a sigh of relief. Orthodontic technology has come a long way over the years. As a result, Damon Smile braces offer a world without elastic ties. Imagine that! Here are three things that make Damon Smile braces different from conventional braces.

More Comfort and Fewer Adjustments

Damon Smile braces use light, “shape memory” titanium wires. Low-friction force guides the teeth into place, creating less discomfort for you than conventional braces. Instead of elastics, Damon Smile braces use a specialized slide that helps the archwire guide the teeth into place. The teeth move freely, quickly, and comfortably. Without traditional ties and elastics, Damon Smile braces require no tightening and fewer adjustments.

Less Treatment Time

For the most part, conventional braces are worn anywhere from 18 months to two years. However, due to its unique, elastics-free technology, treatment with Damon Smile braces is often considerably faster. If you’re starting on an orthodontic journey, then chances are that's the type of thing you want to hear. While the amount of time a person wears braces varies from case to case, Damon braces typically get the job done faster than conventional braces.

Fewer Orthodontic Appointments

Coming to our Fargo, Wahpeton, ND office is probably not on the top of your list of things do, though we do love seeing you! However, Damon braces offer a convenient and hassle-free orthodontic experience. Why? The self-ligating braces require no tightening and fewer adjustments, which in turn means you're going to have far fewer visits with Dr. Gill during your treatment. Chances are, that's the sort of thing that's going to put a smile on your face.

What is so different about Damon® Smile braces?

May 13th, 2020

Damon Smile braces, with their self-ligating technique, have made the orthodontic treatment process more comfortable and faster than ever before. Damon Smile braces require elastic ties to hold the wires in place, which helps in alleviating pressure while your teeth move into their desired position. Therefore, both treatment time and follow-up visits to Gill Orthodontics are reduced.

Damon Smile braces often times do not require the extraction of healthy teeth or other techniques to make space in your mouth before treatment begins. Traditional braces often require metal or elastic ties to hold wires together, typically resulting in a feeling of pressure and discomfort among the teeth while they are moving into an ideal position.

Damon Smile uses a technology called self-ligation, a process that eliminates the need for the ties and lessens the feeling of tightness during your treatment with Dr. Gill. Plus, Damon Smile braces use shape-memory wires that are able to move the teeth into position faster, ultimately cutting treatment time. Damon Smile braces also diminish the amount of food and debris that can become trapped along the brackets, allowing for more efficient teeth cleaning. Damon Smile braces are also available with clear brackets to lessen the visual impact and give you a more aesthetically pleasing smile during treatment.

Dr. Gill and our team at Gill Orthodontics can meet with you to discuss all aspects of treatment. With this innovative technique, you can take advantage of many of the same benefits of traditional braces only with greater comfort, less self-consciousness, and in less time.

Please give us a call at our Fargo, Wahpeton, ND office for more information on Damon Smile, or to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Gill.

Smile with Invisalign Teen®!

May 6th, 2020

Invisalign Teen is designed with today’s youth in mind. These clear, removable orthodontic aligners can straighten your teeth without the need for metal wires and brackets. Unlike traditional braces, Invisalign Teen aligners are comfortable, nearly invisible, and removable, which allows you to remove them as you eat your favorite foods and brush and floss your teeth. Invisalign Teen motivates teenagers to enjoy life without restrictions while promoting better overall dental care.

Key features of Invisalign Teen

Teenagers are constantly on the move and require special options when it comes to their braces. Invisalign Teen utilizes the same technology as Invisalign for adults; they consist of a series of clear plastic aligners that gradually move the teeth. Extra features designed especially for teens include:

  • Blue wear-indicators on the aligners that gradually fade from blue to clear to help you, and our team, gauge wear time
  • Aligners designed to compensate for the growth of molars and new teeth
  • Customization to fit your mouth correctly and comfortably
  • Removable and nearly transparent to ensure you can eat with freedom and smile with confidence
  • Six free individual replacement aligners in the event that your aligners become misplaced or lost

Conditions improved by Invisalign Teen

Between 70 and 80 percent of adolescents in the United States require braces, according to the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO). Invisalign Teen uses advanced technology to treat a broad range of orthodontic conditions. These include overbite, underbite, crossbite, widely-spaced teeth, and overly crowded teeth. Injuries and tooth and jaw problems may also require the use of braces to correct jaw and teeth alignment problems.

How does Invisalign Teen work?

Like any orthodontic treatment, Invisalign Teen requires a customized treatment plan created by Dr. Gill. Generally, each set of aligners is worn for approximately two weeks and removed when you brush, floss, eat, and drink. Your teeth will gradually move with the series of aligners, which typically ranges from 18 to 30 aligners in total. You’ll visit our Fargo, Wahpeton, ND office every eight to ten weeks to check your progress and make any needed adjustments.

Invisalign Teen introduces a whole new way to make your smile straight without the unappealing look and hassle of traditional metal braces. This revolutionary method of correcting smiles is being used by teens everywhere, including right here at Gill Orthodontics, to straighten their teeth with confidence.

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