Dental Radiology

What Is Oral & Maxillofacial Radiology?

Oral and maxillofacial radiology is a type of speciality of dentistry that focuses on the production and interpretation of diagnostic imaging used to examine the craniofacial and dental structures. In simpler terms, it’s the speciality of taking X-rays, CT or MRI scans and then looking at those images to determine a diagnosis and overall care plan for someone’s oral health.

Oral and maxillofacial radiology is one of nine dental specialities recognized by the American Dental Association, and it takes a lot of work to become an Oral and Maxillofacial Radiologist. First, one must complete a dental degree and then apply for and complete a postgraduate course of training, which is usually between 2-4 years in length. They will be trained on all aspects of radiation physics, radiation biology, radiation safety, patho-physiology of disease, the interpretation of diagnostic images and the implementation of a dental care plan based on those radiographic images. Once complete, they must pass the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology examination.

Practicing Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology

For more information about how you can become an oral and maxillofacial radiologist, check out this link which lays out your path to passing your boards. Oral and maxillofacial radiologists are in high demand as dental care continues to be a growing field both in the United States and abroad.

Interpretation and implementation of a care plan based on radiographic information is one of the most important aspects of an OMFR’s job. Working in close proximity with the dental team, the OMFR will perform the radiographic imaging and analyze the results to see what the patient is dealing with and how they would be best served. By catching problems before the get bigger, or by spotting areas of concern, an oral and maxillofacial radiologist can help ensure patients have healthy smiles for decades.

To learn more about oral and maxillofacial radiology or how the practice is implemented each day at our office, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Osteoporosis and Your Teeth

Osteoporosis & Your Teeth

Osteoporosis is a health condition that affects the strength of your bones, and it’s a somewhat common condition as we get into our wonder years. Most doctors warn against falls or athletic injuries which can lead to broken bones, but oftentimes they gloss over the fact that osteoporosis can have a significant impact on your oral health. Below, we take a closer look at osteoporosis and its impact on your oral health.

Medication Management

If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, odds are your physician has prescribed you with some medications to improve your bone density. However, these medications can impact your dental health. For example, antiresorptive agents have been linked to an increased risk of a rare but serious condition called osteonecrosis of the jaw, which can lead to death of the healthy bone cells in the jaw.

Osteonecrosis can occur spontaneously, but it is more common after certain dental procedures, like a root canal or having a tooth pulled. If you are taking antiresorptive medications as part of your osteoporosis treatment, be sure to let your dentist know. They will take this information into account and develop a care plan to reduce your risk of any osteoporosis-related complications.

As we mentioned above, osteonecrosis of the jaw is very rare, and it’s actually more common in patients with cancer who are receiving antiresorptive agents as injections for part of their treatment than individuals taking it to combat osteoporosis, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If you’re starting an antiresorptive medication, let your dentist know in advance of your next visit, regardless of whether you’re having major work done.

Continuing Treatment

So while it may seem like there is risk of dental work if you’re taking antiresorptive medications for your osteoporosis, you should still continue to get regular dental checkups. You’re much more likely to develop a dental disease that osteonecrosis, so avoiding the dentist only leaves you more susceptible to dental problems. Again, let your dentist know about any medications you’re taking, but you are more likely to have good oral health if you continue to visit the dentist even if you begin taking antiresorptive agents. However, major work should be avoided if you’re taking these medications to treat cancer.

Along a similar path, you should also let your doctor know if you are changing or discontinuing medication for osteoporosis management. At any point during medication management, you experience any of the following symptoms, you should contact your dentist or physician right away:

  • Pain, swelling or infection of the jaw or gums.
  • Injured gums that are not healing.
  • Loosening teeth.
  • Numbness or feelings of a heavy jaw.
  • Exposed bone in the mouth.

For more information about caring for your oral health if you have osteoporosis, reach out to Dr. Brooks or your local physician right away.

Oral Piercings & Dental Health

Oral Piercings & Dental Health

Oral piercings or other mouth modifications are a form of self-expression, but at the same time, they can jeopardize your mouth health if they aren’t performed with delicate care by the hand of an experienced piercer. The main reason why so many things can go wrong with a mouth piercing is because your mouth is home to millions of bacteria which can enter the bloodstream after the piercing. Similarly, if your tongue has an allergic reaction, it can make it difficult to breath.

There are other potential issues as well. For example, you could crack or damage a tooth if you bite down on the jewelry or if it repeatedly strikes one surface of your teeth. Also, you need to make sure a trusted piercing shop is performing the piercing to reduce the risk of machine-transferred bacteria or diseases. Other poor reactions people have had to mouth piercings include:

  • Significant pain.
  • Damage to gums, teeth or previous dental work.
  • Disrupted speech or chewing.
  • Hypersensitivity to metals.
  • Nerve damage to your tongue.
  • Increased saliva production.
  • Issues with dental X-rays if the jewelry can’t be removed.

Getting A Mouth or Tongue Piercing

Now, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t get a piercing if it’s what you want, we only ask that you do it as safely as possible and practice some good dental hygiene tips, which include:

  • Only have the piercing performed by a trusted professional piercer who has performed many successful mouth piercings in the past.
  • Let the piercer know if you have any known allergies.
  • Contact your dentist or physician – not the piercer – if you notice any signs of infection near the piercing site (redness, swelling, fever, chills, pain).
  • Keep the piercing site clean and free of food particles by rinsing your mouth after meals.
  • Avoid striking your jewelry against your teeth. Some people report that they knock their jewelry against their teeth as a nervous or absent-minded habit, but this can damage your teeth.
  • Check your jewelry tightness with clean hands at regular intervals to avoid it becoming dislodged and accidently swallowing it.
  • Remove the jewelry during exercise or athletic activity.
  • Visit your dentist on a regular basis, and ask them for any advice on how to best manage the piercing site and your overall mouth health.

Bloomington Dental Clinic

Know what you’re getting into before getting mouthwork done, because it will require a lifetime of maintenance if you want to protect your teeth. We’ve served a number of patients with mouth and tongue piercings, and we can give you advice and ensure your oral health stays optimal as you adjust to the new jewelry. If you have any questions or want some advice, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Water Flossing

What Is Water Flossing?

Nobody really likes flossing, but it is an important part of a good oral hygiene. For individuals who are sick of the floss string or those individual floss sticks, water flossing may be a more enjoyable way to floss your teeth. But what is water flossing, and is it right for you? We explain in today’s blog.

How Does Water Flossing Work?

Water flossing is a relatively new way to clean the surfaces and in between your teeth. Dentists have been using them for some time, but smaller handheld versions have been developed for patients to use in their own home. They work by spraying a concentrated stream of water at the teeth to safely disengaged plaque and food particles that may reside around your teeth. By removing this buildup, you can protect against tooth decay, cavities or gum disease.

Water flossers have become more popular in recent years, and some models have earned the distinction of receiving the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. The ADA seal means that not only are they effective at removing plaque, but they are safe and won’t harm your teeth. You can see a full list of ADA Seal of Acceptance water flossers by clicking here.

Who Can Benefit From Water Flossing?

Water flossing is beneficial for any individual who is ready to ditch the flossing string, but those aren’t the only people who should look into water flossing options. People who have difficulty flossing by hand, people with health conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, or people with previous dental work that makes regular flossing hard (like people with braces or fixed bridges) could greatly benefit from personal water flossing devices.

Although water flossing is a great substitute for regular flossing, it is only part of a good dental hygiene routine. You should still be brushing your teeth at least twice a day for 2-3 minutes, and water flossing is beneficial after you’ve brushed your teeth to remove anything your brush might have missed.

Twin Cities Dental Clinic

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you use to floss your teeth so long as you make time to floss at least once a day, but many people have found that they floss more often if they can use a portable water flossing device, so it may be a good investment for yourself or your kids. If you have any questions about water flossing, or you want personal recommendations from Dr. Brooks about the right water flosser for your situation, call his office today at (952) 260-3156.

Dental Sealants

The Many Benefits of Dental Sealants

Brushing and flossing are two ways people protect their teeth on a regular basis, but it’s not always easy to hit all surfaces of each tooth. If you can’t effectively clean these surfaces, especially your molars that are responsible for the majority of your chewing, food particles can build up and lead to plaque or cavities.

That being said, brushing and flossing aren’t the only ways you can protect your teeth surfaces. Dental professionals offer what’s known as dental sealant, and as the name implies, it’s a protective coating that is applied to your teeth and prevents decay and cavity formation. Below, we take a closer look at dental sealants, and explain how they can help keep your teeth healthy.

The Benefits of Dental Sealants

Sealants are a great way to protect your teeth and keep them healthy as you age. One study revealed that sealants have been found to reduce the risk of tooth decay by almost 80 percent, while a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that children without sealants were three times more likely to develop cavities compared to their peers who had sealant on their teeth.

Sealants are available to both children and adults, but the earlier you get them on your permanent teeth, the better. Most kids are ready for sealants at age 6 for their first permanent molars and around the age of 12 for their second permanent molars. Sealing the teeth earlier can help keep them cavity-free long into adulthood. Your dentist will probably ask you about sealants if your child is nearing the appropriate age, but you can also bring it up to them on your next visit.

Sealant Application

The sealant application process is quick and painless. It begins with the dentist cleaning and drying your teeth before applying a dental gel to your teeth. This dental gel roughs up the tooth’s surface while simultaneously creating the perfect environment for the sealant to create a strong bond with the teeth. The gel is removed after a couple of seconds, your teeth are again dried, and the sealant is then applied to the grooves of your teeth. A special light is then placed over the tooth for a moment in order to help the sealant harden.

Here are some other quick notes about dental sealant:

  • Sealants can be placed over cavities or areas with previous tooth decay to prevent future problems.
  • There are no known side effects to sealants, although in very rare cases, there might be a minor allergic reaction to the sealant.
  • Sealants typically last for a 3-5 years before a retreatment is recommended. Your dentist will check the sealant strength during regular checkups.
  • Some sealants are covered under dental plans, so call your insurer to see if you’re covered if you have any questions about cost.

Sealants are a great way to protect against future teeth issues, so talk to your dentist today about having the quick sealant procedure performed. Dr. Brooks has performed countless sealant procedures for patients, and he’d be happy to talk about your options. Contact his office today.

Dental Xrays

The Benefits of Dental X-Rays

Dental X-rays are are very beneficial tool for both the dentist and patient when it comes to protecting teeth and keeping them healthy long into the future. X-rays are at least partially covered under most insurance plans, and they can help paint a clear picture of what’s going on in your mouth. Below, we take a look at the numerous benefits of dental X-rays.

Sees What We Can’t

Your dentist can spot cavities or plaque buildup on your teeth, but it’s impossible for them to tell where tooth enamel is weakening or how your child’s permanent teeth are forming without the assistance of an X-ray. This diagnostic tool allows dentists to see things that they normally couldn’t with the naked eye, so they can stop potential problems in their infancy.

Highlights Cavities

Some cavities can be difficult to spot, especially if they occur in the close spaces between teeth. With X-ray imaging, your dentist can learn where these cavities are without having to dig around for a while in your mouth. This shortens your visit and helps you get the treatment you need for new or developing cavities.

Allows For Comparisons Or Growth Tracking

If you get regular X-rays, or you simply get a second imaging test performed at a later date, your dentist will be able to compare to two images to see how teeth are forming or how treatments are working. If they notice that one tooth is coming in at a bad angle or that a nerve root is damaged, they can take preventative measures to prevent problems down the road.

Provides A Baseline

If you’re a new patient, X-rays are a great way for a dentist to be able to study your mouth and what work you’ve had done all by looking at a couple of images. You can have old X-rays forwarded to your new dentist, but the new office will usually like to get a baseline understanding of what’s going on inside your mouth with a new patient X-ray during your first visit.

Safe and Effective

Although very low doses of radiation are used during the X-ray, dental X-rays are very safe. Dentists take precautions to limit radiation exposure as much as possible, but you should let your doctor know if you think or know you’re pregnant to ensure there is no danger to you or your child.

For more information about dental X-rays, or to set up a dental appointment with Dr. Brooks, reach out to his office today at (952) 260-3156.

Bad Breath Dentist

6 Tips for Treating Bad Breath

Nobody wants to have bad breath, but it’s a condition that can be caused by a number of different factors. Some causes of bad breath are fixable with minor adjustments to your daily life, while other issues are best treated with the assistance of a dental professional. Today, we take a closer look at some of the common causes of bad breath, and how you can treat the problem.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath is caused by more than just eating pungent foods like onions or garlic. It can be caused by a number of different issues, including:

  • Gum Disease
  • Mouth Bacteria
  • Smoking/Tobacco Use
  • Dietary Choices
  • Medical Conditions
  • Unclean Dentures

Treating Bad Breath

Let’s take a look at the six common causes of bad breath that we listed above, and share some ways to prevent them from leading to bad breath.

  • Gum Disease – The easiest way to prevent against gum disease is to have good oral health. Brush your twice at least twice a day, and floss to remove food particles that can contribute to bad breath.
  • Mouth Bacteria – A good portion of the mouth bacteria that can contribute to bad breath is present on your tongue, so don’t forget to brush your tongue after you’ve hit your teeth. Mouthwash can also kill or neutralize bacteria in your mouth that is causing bad breath.
  • Smoking/Tobacco Use – We know that it’s easier said than done, but giving up smoking will help improve your breath and your overall oral health. Stopping smoking has health benefits for your entire body, so really consider giving up the habit.
  • Dietary Choices – Certain pungent food choices can give us bad breath. You don’t need to avoid these options altogether, but make sure your brush well and floss to remove particles after consuming food or beverages that are contributing to bad breath.
  • Medical Conditions – Certain medications or medical conditions can inhibit the production of saliva in your mouth. Saliva actually helps to protect your teeth and kill harmful bacteria that can lead to bad breath, so consider switching medications to see if this affects saliva production. You can also try to increase saliva production by chewing sugarless gum or sucking on hard citrus-flavored candy.
  • Clean Dentures – Regular denture care is important if you want to keep them from contributing to your bad breath. Make sure that you remove them and clean them nightly. Irregular cleaning can lead to foul breath.

For more tips on how to prevent and treat bad breath, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Natural Teeth Whitening

Myths About Natural Teeth Whitening

Everybody wants to have a nice, white smile, but how do you know which natural teeth whitening tricks actually work? There are ways to naturally whiten your teeth, but there are also plenty of myths flying around. Below, we separate fact from fiction when it comes to the best ways to whiten your teeth. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the most common response given when people were asked how they would like to improve their smile was that they would like a whiter smile. So how can you achieve this? Here’s a look at some common methods touted on the Internet.

Fruits

Fruits are a great dietary choice in that they are loaded with Vitamin C, but they aren’t going to do anything to whiten your smile. In fact, naturally acidic fruits eaten in large quantities can actually wear away your tooth enamel. Enamel is the thin outer coating on your teeth that protects against sensitivity and cavities.

Tooth Scrubs

Some dental scrubs claim that active ingredients like charcoal and baking soda will reinvigorate your smile and make your teeth brighter. However, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association, there is no evidence that dental products with charcoal are safe or effective for whitening your teeth. Also if the product is too abrasive, it can actually end up making your teeth look more yellow by wearing away your tooth enamel.

Whitening Toothpaste

These are probably your best bet if you’re looking for a simple way to make your teeth look a little whiter. When picking out a whitening toothpaste, look for one that is marked with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. This let’s you know that the product is safe, effective and won’t wear down your tooth enamel. Whitening toothpastes don’t actually whiten the enamel, but they help remove superficial stains.

Coconut Oil

Some people believe that swishing coconut oil in your mouth can help to whiten your teeth, but again there is no documented scientific evidence to back up this assertion. Look elsewhere for a whitening option.

Whitening Strips

Whitening strips aren’t really considered a “natural” way to whiten your teeth, but they are one of the most common methods pursued, so we want to touch on it. Like whitening toothpaste, make sure you find one with the ADA Seal of Approval so you know that the product is safe and effective. Here’s a link that will take you to a list of all oral hygiene products, including bleaching products, that have the ADA Seal of Approval.

There are other ways to whiten your teeth or prevent them from yellowing, and that includes avoiding coffee, stopping smoking and regularly brushing your teeth. For more tips on how to get a whiter smile, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Electronic Dental Records

The Importance of Electronic Dental Records

Dental records, as the name implies, are charts and information about a specific patient’s teeth. They are similar to medical records that your physician may keep at their office, and they are beneficial to both the patient and dentist in many ways. Here’s a look at why dental records are important for your oral health.

Changes

When examined as a whole, dental records can give a dentist a good idea of how a patient’s mouth is changing over time. They can see if teeth are coming in at the right angle, or which teeth are likely to cause problems down the road. By looking at a combination of records and imaging results, a dentist can stop potential issues in their infancy.

Weak Spots and Cavities

Dental imaging records can also detect where your tooth enamel is worn down and where cavities exist. Once addressed by a dentist, new images can see how the filling is protecting the weak spot. By pinpointing weak spots or locations where plague is prone to buildup, dentists can let patients know which areas to pay close attention to while they’re brushing and flossing.

Good From Clinic to Clinic

Another great thing about electronic dental records is that you can transfer them from one clinic to another. If you move, you go off to college or your dentist retires and you need to find a new clinic, your former dental office can easily send your dental records on to your new dentist. Instead of starting from scratch, a dental professional can simply look at your records and decipher how to best care for your teeth.

Easy To View

Electronic dental images, like an X-ray, can be viewed almost instantly after the X-ray is taken. Doctors can enlarge images and get a good understanding of your teeth without needing to look directly in your mouth. This helps to streamline your dental visit and helps you complete your visit in a quick manner.

Environmentally Friendly

Back in the day, your dental records were stored on paper in filing cabinets. Now, records are stored digitally and securely. Not only is this good for the environment, but your records would be safe in the event of a pipe burst or fire at the office.

Electronic dental records make it easier for your dentist to provide you with the best level of care. If you are looking for a new dentist and want your records safely forwarded to our clinic, please give us a call and we’ll help you get your electronic dental records. For more information, contact Dr. Brooks’ office today.

Teeth Grinding Symptoms

Teeth Grinding / Clenching – Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Teeth grinding/clenching can be a painful and damaging habit many people aren’t even aware of because it happens during sleep.

Teeth Grinding/Clenching Causes & Symptoms

Teeth grinding can be the result of many factors, including stress, anxiety, sleeping disorders, abnormal bite patterns, or missing teeth. Grinding can occur in both adult and adolescent patients. With pediatric patients, teeth grinding can also be caused by allergies, misaligned teeth, and irritation in the mouth. However, since a child’s jaw and teeth change so rapidly as they grow, teeth grinding is typically not an issue that needs to be addressed until adulthood.

Common symptoms that may indicate teeth grinding:

  • Waking up with a sore jaw or headache
  • Painful or loose teeth
  • Fractured or chipped teeth

Preventing & Treating Teeth Grinding/Clenching

When it comes to preventing and treating teeth grinding, you have several options. Wearing a mouthguard while you sleep is one of the most direct treatment options. Your dentist can fit you with a mouthguard that will protect your teeth from the harmful effects of grinding while you sleep. While mouthguards are great for preventing the symptoms of grinding, they often do not address the root cause of the teeth grinding. If stress is causing your grinding, your dentist may recommend a muscle relaxant before bedtime. Exercises, meditation, and counseling can also significantly reduce stress and help prevent teeth grinding.

Minnesota Dental Clinic

Are you experiencing a dental health issue? Smiles for Life has you covered! Dr. Tim Brooks makes it a point to provide compassionate, individualized care to every patient that makes an appointment. No matter how big or small your dental issue is, we will offer you top-notch care at Smiles for Life. Our primary clinic is located in Bloomington, but we serve patients throughout the Twin Cities metro and surrounding areas. Give us a call today to set up your appointment!