The dentist’s super-power, his use of X-ray, has long evoked puzzled and powerful questions from parents. This will not be our first blog on the matter, but it has been a while since we published a blog concerning the topic. Briefly, we made a stance with our first article, saying “Here at Dentistry for Children, we realize that every child is different, and a child’s dental needs are different.” And we continue to support our “three important rules about this matter:
1. We always check a child’s medical and dental records before taking X-rays
2. We only order X-rays after an extensive visual examination. There is no need to employ the dentist’s super-power if we have no other method of establishing a diagnosis.
3. We only order the dentist’s super-power of X-ray when there is no other way to see the child’s dental problem.
The Dentist’s Super-Power of X-ray, Our Redux and Review
That being said, we think this is a good time to re-visit the issue and explain the use of the dentist’s super-power of X-ray.
Pediatric dentists might be super-heroes in disguise but they do not have Clark Kent’s power of X-ray vision. However, the dentists of today have a reliable super tucked into their X-ray machine.
Indeed, it is the very structure of the human mouth which mandates our use of x-rays. “There are many parts of a tooth and its supporting structures that are hidden by either close contacts or tissues.”
To X-ray or Not to X-ray: One Special Case at a Time
At Dentistry for Children, we individualize each case, and we customize treatments accordingly.
1. We need to prescribe x-rays in order to discover problematic cavities. Those are the ones you cannot see. And they often develop between the teeth.
2. Likewise, if a child is a new patient, we need to provide a baseline picture of his or her oral health.
Most parents understand how important it is to create that first set of X-rays.
When is X-ray Your Dentist’s Super-Power?
On the one hand, if a child has numerous cavities, he or she carries a high risk. Vigilance against reoccurring cavities would demand the use of the dentist’s super-power, his X-ray vision. At Dentistry for Children, a patient with baby teeth full of cavities sends up a red flag for a lifetime of dentistry.
On the other hand, we are never eager to utilize the dentist’s super-power X-ray if a child has never had cavities. Six months or even a year might elapse without the need of exposure to X-ray if a child shows no symptoms of caries (dental decay.) or developmental problems. At Dentistry for Children in Central Florida, we ascribe rigorously to the words of the American Dental Society. They state all the aspects of examination which we pursue:
- First and foremost, we conduct“A thorough clinical examination, consideration of the patient history…”
- Then we carefully “review of any prior radiographs,
- We summarize caries risk assessment,
- And we always consider both the dental and the general health needs of the patient should precede radiographic examination.”
The Secrets of a Pediatric Dental Exam
You probably know that a during a dental exam we meticulously inspect your child’s teeth. Like many such pediatric dentists, Dr. Troy King is a trained decay detective. With a gentle touch or delicate tap, he interprets your child’s reactions. Tiny reactions from your child allow him to know if your child is in discomfort. Yet, Dr. King needs the best diagnostic tools to follow the clues to lead him to the specific whereabouts of the elusive decay. That often must mean using X-ray to find and fix the problem.
What the Tooth Whisperer Knows
We’re sure you have heard of the movie the “Horse Whisperer.” Well, around here, we call pediatric dentists tooth whisperers. As we continue to guard the development of permanent teeth, it becomes more difficult to discern decay. You might have heard us say previously that if we “wait until you can see it without an X-ray, that tooth is in big trouble!”
As a sort of “Tooth Whisperer,” Dr. Troy takes many factors into account. We follow and meticulously document:
- The developmental age of your child,
- We look at your child’s level of caries risk assessment. We chronicle the spacing in your child’s mouth,
- Often we note or discuss your child’s diet with you.
- Likewise, we educate children and parents concerning oral hygiene.
The Tooth Whisperer’s Decisive Goal
We want to find cavities when they are tiny. Likewise, we need to recognize developmental issues early. We do not want cavities or developmental issues to damage your child’s oral health. Remember the old saying, as “goes the mouth, so goes the man.” That means judicious use of X-rays can save your child from a lifetime of dental misery and expense.
Judicious Use of X-ray Vision
Thus, we use X-rays to diagnose many dental conditions.
- Believe it or not, your child will grow up quickly.
- Then we will use X-rays to check for the development of wisdom teeth. With X-rays, we can identify teeth that are impacted
- In his or her early years, we can use X-rays to find out “there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth.”
Respecting the Dentist’ Super-Power
Likewise, X-ray helps us discover whether or not your child is losing his or her primary teeth quickly enough. They are supposed to keep pace with proper growth of the permanent teeth. We cannot determine this without discreet use of our X-ray vision. Did you know that whatever your child’s age, we rely on our X-ray vision, to discover developmental abnormalities, such as cysts and some types of tumors?
The Dentist’s Super Power and a Little Lesson from the Comics
Do you remember how careful Superman was with his super-powers? He was especially cautious when he was in disguise as Clark Kent. Well, that is how judicious and respectful we are about using our super-power of X-ray. After all, it can be just as dangerous as Kryptonite was to Superman. So we’re very careful with this super-power, a wonderful diagnostic tool.