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Health Q&A

Posted December 19, 2012 in Advice Column, Windsor Heights

Q: What are digital X-rays?

A: X-rays are important because they help your dentist evaluate your dental health. Traditional X-ray has a host of drawbacks. Not only are patients exposed to radiation, but your dentist must use and store hazardous chemicals to develop the oral image, plus the time it takes to do so. Then there is the matter of viewing them. Often, the only way to look at a traditional X-ray is on a small light board. This can make it hard for the dentist to see minute details and explain them to the patient for proposed treatment. The problems don’t stop there. You must also answer the question of where to store all these X-rays. They have to be kept somewhere, which requires extra space and organization. X-rays must be mailed occasionally to insurance upon request and can be lost or misplaced, causing delays in the claim process.

Digital X-rays are a wonderful tool. Patients can see clear and detailed images on the computer monitor with little or no wait. If a retake is needed, the assistant or hygienist can see it on the monitor and retake an image immediately. The doctor can co-diagnose with the patient and create a clear and detailed treatment plan. Because digital radiography emits up to 90 percent less radiation, it is much safer for the patient and the staff. Digital X-rays can be stored, copied and transferred easily, creating a quicker turnaround for an insurance claim They make it easy for referrals and can be emailed directly to the requesting specialist or patient. The X-ray files are saved in the computer and can be accessed any time they are needed without any need for additional physical storage space.

Information from Dear Doctor magazine, provided by Dr. Dennis Winter, Iowa Dental Arts, P.C., 2901 Beaver Ave., 277-6657.

Q: Why do computer games pose dental risks?

A: A study of young gamers suggests that those who spend substantial time at the screen are more than twice as likely to develop tooth decay as youngsters with more active lifestyles. Though computer games have long been identified as contributing to childhood obesity, keeping youngsters from more active pursuits, this study of youngsters between the ages of 12 and 16, is the first to identify the dental danger.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Iowa, found that teenagers are more likely to snack on sugary foods while absorbed for hours in computer games. The study also found that youngsters whose parents set rules for screen time were at less risk.

Sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque, which is the sticky coating we all have on our teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that cause tooth decay. When we eat or drink something sugary, our teeth can be under siege for up to an hour. This is why it is better to keep intake of sugary foods to regular meal times, after which a person may be able to brush, or at least rinse, their teeth. Talk with your dentist about ways to protect your and your children’s teeth.

Information provided by Des Moines Dental Group, 708 First Ave S., 967-6611.

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