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X-Ray Vision, part two

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Radiographs help me find decay every day! Known by most as “x-rays”, they reveal decay under a large filling that is fast approaching the nerve of the tooth. When examining teeth in the mouth, I cannot see through a filling to find this. Undetected decay that reaches the nerve usually causes a painful toothache that needs immediate attention. I like to keep my patients from this experience. Probably many readers can tell the story of a poorly-timed toothache!

Similarly, sometimes I can see a small spot of decay when examining teeth in the mouth, but it is just like an ant hill. What looks small from the surface could be small, medium, or large when deeper into the tooth. It could even be as deep as the nerve, just not yet causing trouble. An x-ray tells me this information so we can plan accordingly to fix the problem, rather than scramble to find a solution after we made the area numb and drilled into the tooth. For example, we may have planned to just replace the worn-out filling for 30 minutes, and the patient will get to work on time. If the decay is too large, we must alter the plan, and the material used, and double or triple the procedure time. We cannot just stop in the middle of the problem. The patient will not get to work on time.

There are two times when the scenario listed above does not work. The first is when a metal crown covers up a problem deep inside the tooth. The second is when a large metal filling blocks decay that occurs at the “side” of an existing filling, not at the bottom (closest to the nerve). X-radiation cannot penetrate metal. Suffice it to say, that many years of experience with this limitation have given me the expertise to work around this problem.

Contact Winterset Dental today to find out which treatment is right for you.