Radiation; X-rays; Whitening

Welcome to the Dog Days of Summer! Ever wondered about the origin of that phrase?

It doesn’t have anything to do with your dogs or Dr. Krug’s Golden Retrievers lying around being lazy on a hot humid day. Rather it stems from Sirius the Dog Star. Every summer around this time, it rises and sets with the sun. The Ancient Romans used to think Sirius added heat to our sun because it was so bright in the night sky. They thought this added heat made the summer hotter.

Today this period is from July 3rd until August 11th.


This month we would like to share some information about radiation, x-rays and whitening.

Some patients are concerned about the amount of radiation in dental x-rays. The following information comes from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the American Nuclear Society. On average, Americans receive a radiation dose of about 620 millirem (mrem) per year. About half (310 mrem) of this comes from natural background radiation. The other half comes from man-made sources, such as medical, commercial and industrial. International Standards allow exposure to as much as 5000 mrem per year for those who work around radioactive materials. Respectively, a dental x-ray is 1.5 mrem; abdominal x-ray 70 mrem; two hours flying in a plane 1 mrem; living in the Colorado Plateau 75 mrem per year; smoking a pack of cigarettes a day 36 mrem per year; living within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant .01 mrem per year; living within 50 miles of a coal fired power plant .03 mrem.

Many of our patients ask why we take x-rays and if they are necessary. X-rays help Dr. Krug visualize diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissue that cannot be seen with an exam or “the naked eye”. X-rays also help Dr. Krug find small problems before they become big ones. This can potentially save you from physical pain, monetary pain, and may even be a life saver. In adults, x-rays can show decay not visible in an exam; especially between the teeth or beneath a filling; show infection at the root of a tooth or between the tooth and gum; reveal changes on teeth roots or bone and bone loss; show cysts and tumors. In children, in addition to everything we look for in adults, x-rays are used to watch for decay; determine the rate at which primary (baby) teeth are being lost and permanent teeth are coming in and if there is enough space for them; watch the development of wisdom teeth.

There are two main types of dental x-rays, intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral in which the sensor is inside the mouth and extraoral in which the sensor is outside the mouth. Two examples of intraoral x-rays are Periapicals and Bitewings. Periapical x-rays show the entire tooth from the crown (the exposed surface of the tooth you can see), to the root and where the root attaches to the jaw. Bitewing x-rays show details of the upper and lower molars (back teeth) and bicuspids (teeth in front of the molars). Each bitewing shows a tooth from its crown to the level of the supporting bone. Bitewings detect decay between the teeth and changes in the thickness of the bone caused by Periodontal (gum) Disease.

Two examples of extraoral x-rays are Panoramic and Cephalometric. Pan and Ceph for short. A Pan x-ray is a single x-ray that shows all the teeth, as well as emerging and impacted teeth in both the upper and lower jaws. A Ceph x-ray shows one side of the head, the patient’s profile and teeth in relation to the jaw.



As we age, our teeth become stained from the foods and beverages we consume such as coffee, tea, red wine, blueberries and red sauces. Tobacco use is a habit that greatly affects the color of teeth as well. Teeth whitening is a service our office offers for those patients interested in brightening up their smile. Let’s start off by saying all teeth are not created equal. Patients’ will achieve different results when whitening their teeth. As a rule, people who have yellow teeth will have better results than someone with gray teeth.  If you are considering whitening your teeth, you generally have two options. In-office or take-home whitening. What separates these two is the concentration of the peroxide in the whitening product and the amount of time the whitening product is on your teeth. In-office whitening utilizes a higher concentration of peroxide over a shorter period. Take-home whitening utilizes a lower concentration of peroxide over a longer time. In office whitening produces immediate results, includes a take home kit for touch ups, however, is more expensive. Take home whitening is less expensive but takes longer and requires motivation to produce results. Only you the consumer can decide which route is best for you.

Tooth whitening products are not recommended for pregnant or nursing women or children under the age of 13. Please be aware, natural tooth colored fillings, and porcelain/ceramic crowns, veneers and bridges will not whiten.

Enjoy your summer! Remember to give us a call to schedule your Continuing Care or Whitening Appointment. At Cottage Dental Care, Complete Health Dentistry, you will always “be treated like family.”

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