Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Understanding X-Rays

xraysX-rays are one of the most important diagnostic tools at any dentist’s office. Getting your regular x-rays is the only way to be sure that you don’t have any tooth decay that needs to be taken care of.

But, considering the dangers of radiation, are x-rays a worthwhile risk? This is a common concern, so Overlake Dental in Bellevue wants our patients have the important facts they need to feel safe during their normal dental appointments.

“X-rays, also known as radiographs, are an essential part of any dental care treatment plan. They are diagnostic, but they can also be preventative, by helping a dentist diagnose potential oral care issues in a patient’s mouth before they become a major problem. An x-ray is a type of energy that passes through soft tissues and is absorbed by dense tissue. Teeth and bone are very dense, so they absorb X-rays, while X-rays pass more easily through gums and cheeks.

X-rays are divided into two main categories, intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral is an X-ray that is taken inside the mouth. An extraoral X-ray is taken outside of the mouth.

Intraoral X-rays are the most common type of radiograph taken in dentistry. They give a high level of detail of the tooth, bone and supporting tissues of the mouth.”


The first thing to realize is that the amount of radiation you are subjected to with modern dental x-ray machines is exceptionally minimal. Advances in x-ray technology allow us to get an effective image of your teeth quickly and efficiently.

Machines operating at a higher speed let us capture a picture with a very short exposure period, and more limited x-ray beams focus the radiation only on where it is needed. Along with the advances in dental technology, you also enjoy the protection lead-lined aprons.

In short, the small amount of radiation that you are exposed to is easily worth the benefits you get from an occasional dental x-ray.

The Effects of Stress On Your Oral Health

Excessive stress can have a strong effect on your overall health. It invites heart disease, reduces your immune system, and can even take a disastrous toll on your teeth and gums. There are numerous ways that stress can be detrimental to your oral health, including all of the following:

  • Stress often serves as the root cause of tooth grinding and clenching of the jaw, which breaks down tooth enamel and pushes teeth out of alignment.
  • Some people have a nervous habit of chewing when they feel stress, which puts you at risk of breaking a tooth.
  • Canker sores, cold sores, and similar sores may sometimes be caused or aggravated by stress.
  • Excess stress can aggravate gum disease.
  • Many people overeat when they feel stressed, favoring sugary comfort foods that invite tooth decay.
  • Stress can lead to depression, which causes people to neglect their dental care routine.

If you have too much stress in your life, our Bellevue dentistry clinic advises that you take measures to manage it. Further, be sure to always keep your regular dental appointments to best assure that you catch any dental problems before they become serious.

Toothaches and Aspirin

There is a myth floating around that you can ease a toothache by placing an aspirin next to it. However, our Bellevue dentist advises that this is not a wise course of action. Not only will this not mitigate your pain, but you are in fact only making your problem worse.

A toothache generally results from an inflammation of the pulp inside the tooth, which is thereby crowded by the unmovable shell that makes up the rest of the tooth. An anti-inflammatory drug can ease the pain, but only if you swallow it and allow it to make its way to the afflicted tissues through the bloodstream. As an aspirin is acidic, merely holding one in your mouth is further contributing to the breakdown of your gums and enamel, exactly as if you were holding a sugary candy by your tooth.

When your tooth is hurting, swallow the aspirin, ice the area or rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can ease gum swelling. If you have concerns, please call Overlake Family Dental as soon as possible.

Toothbrush Maintenance

Many people come to our Bellevue dentist wondering how frequently they should be replacing their toothbrushes. This is a valid concern, as your brush can quickly become a hotbed of bacteria. Aside from this, the bristles of your brush are also getting worn out and bent out of place, gradually acting as a less and less effective cleaning tool. Not being mindful of a proper replacement schedule can eventually compromise the good that your brush is doing for your teeth.

The common wisdom is to get a new toothbrush every three months. However, this number can vary from person to person. Some people brush harder than others, and will see their bristles splaying out far sooner than the three month mark. This is a clear sign that you need a new brush. Other people may be suffering from gum disease, and can benefit from getting a fresh brush every few weeks or so. This helps them avoid exposing themselves to rampant bacteria colonies.

In the meantime, you can keep your brush cleaner for longer by observing some simple sanitation practices. Remember that bacteria thrives in damp environments, and so storing your brush upright to let it dry out is a good habit to get into. If this isn’t enough, consider periodically dipping the bristles in either hot water or an antibacterial mouthwash. Do not microwave your brush or wash it in the dishwasher, as this can destroy the fragile material of the bristles.

If you have further questions about your toothbrush, consult Overlake Family Dental in Bellevue, WA.

Are You Brushing Right?

Most of the problems we see at our Bellevue dental clinic can be linked to poor brushing technique. Even if you consider yourself a pretty decent brusher, the difference between “good” oral hygiene and “great” oral hygiene is noticeable in the dentist chair. Take a look at this simple list of brushing tips, and see if your own routine could benefit from a little more care.

Floss before brushing. This allows the fluoride of the toothpaste to get in between your teeth better.
Brush twice a day, once after you wake up and once before you go to sleep, after your last meal of the day. Plan not to eat or drink anything except water between your last brushing of the day and your bedtime; your mouth is less able to defend itself while you sleep.
Brush for about two minutes at a time. Too little may leave you insufficiently cleaned, and too much might be too hard on your gums.
Do not brush directly after eating. Acids in your food can weaken your tooth enamel for a short while, making them vulnerable to being stripped away by your brush.

Hold your brush at a forty-five degree angle to your teeth and brush in a circular motion, gently massaging your gums.
Remember that plaque can gather on your tongue as well. Use a tongue scraper, or simply brush your tongue if you need to.
Follow up your brushing with a quality mouthwash; there are several good antibacterial and fluoride rinses available, which can work wonders to giving your teeth the extra edge they need.