Ask The Dentist – April 2023

Can I Get Braces?

The short answer is yes, most people can get braces to straighten their teeth. However there are those who require more than just braces or clear aligners to achieve the ideal result. Sometimes various surgeries are needed as braces cannot fix all conditions or ailments. For example if someone has a tooth buried under the gums that isn’t erupting, uncovering the tooth and attaching a bracket to pull the tooth into place may be required. For most people, traditional braces or clear aligners will work well enough to achieve an ideal smile.

How Often Do I Really Need To Get X-Rays?

For most people in the US, taking x-rays once a year is adequate. Generally the ones taken are cavity checker films and not the full set. Every 3-5 years a panoramic x-ray or full set should be taken to evaluate the roots and jawbone. This is the standard of care in the US. That most dentists like to follow, however this is not a set in stone rule. There are some people whose cavity rate is so low that they could get xrays every 18-24 months. Conversely there are those who would benefit from getting x-rays every 6 months. However there tends to be more pushback from both patients and insurance companies for every 6 month intervals. Ask you dentist about your specific situation to see what is best for you.

How Can I Find A Good Dentist?

This is a tricky one, as the best experience at the dentist requires good interactions from everyone on their staff. Additionally unless you have experience in the field or know someone who is, it can be very difficult to be able to evaluate the clinical quality. The main pieces of advice I can give are to make sure you feel comfortable at the dental office. If you feel that the dental office or dentist doesn’t have your best interest at heart, then you may want to find someone who you feel does.

If you trust your dentist, then another good general rule of thumb is that after dental work is done, it should be easy to adjust to the new restoration. It should generally feel like nothing was done. Once a restoration settles down, if you cannot tell much difference with the teeth from day to day activities. There are of course caveats to this, such as surgeries and prosthesis like dentures. However, most procedures should feel like not much was done.

Why Are Many Dental Offices Not Open On Friday?

This is most often smaller offices that have a single doctor. Most offices are open from 8-5 or some sort of variation of these hours. While the offices are open 8 hours, including an hour lunch, all the staff is typically not there for only 8 hours. There is a fair amount of prep work prior to the first patient. There are many offices where staff comes in half an hour early or more to prepare for the day. After that, many staff stay late to clean up and set up for the next day. There are many days where everyone clocks in 8-9 hours total. To prevent overtime and rest, these offices open 4 days a week. Once the office grows to a size where more staff can cover more hours, then more hours and weekends can become available.

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