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Dental X-Rays Demystified

Dental x-rays are in important part of an exam. They help the doctor detect damage to gums and teeth not visible during a routine checkup. X-rays also show the condition of your jaw placement, overall composition of your facial bones, and the condition of your teeth and roots. Your doctor may also be able to determine the presence of abscesses, the degree of gum disease, and the presence of abnormal growths and tumors. Impacted teeth and teeth which have not fully developed can also be seen using x-rays. Today’s dental x-rays are valuable tools your dentist uses to give you the best care possible.

Your dentist may take x-rays every six months to track your oral health. You may need new x-rays or bring your x-rays with you if you change dentists. The timing of x-rays depends upon your specific condition.

What are the Different Type of X-Rays?

Bitewing x-rays are the most common type. Patients hold or bite down on a piece of plastic containing x-ray film in the center. Your doctor may use bitewing x-rays to check for decay between your teeth. This is one of the most common places for decay to occur.

Another common type of x-ray are periapical x-rays. These give your doctor an image of the entire tooth and root. Periapical x-rays help dentists evaluate the bone level and structure of a tooth. It can also detect abscesses and cysts.

Occlusal x-rays give your doctor a view of the floor of your mouth. This shows the bite of the lower or upper jaw. This type of x-ray can be used to show the development of children’s primary and permanent teeth.

A radiograph, or panoramic x-ray, gives your dentist a view of our whole mouth. A single image may include parts of your jaw and upper and lower teeth. This type of x-ray gives your dentist a very clear image and is also used to predict children’s tooth development and spot any wisdom teeth complications before they erupt.

Your doctor may use more than one type of x-ray to diagnose and determine treatment. Each type gives your dentist a unique view of your teeth, gums, and mouth. Periapical and bitewing x-rays give a more detailed image while panoramic x-rays let your doctor see your entire mouth.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Dental x-rays use a low dose of radiation and are considered very safe. Although the x-ray machine is large, the actual x-ray is produced from a small cone limiting exposure. Today’s x-ray film is much more sensitive and needs less radiation to produce an image. Digital x-rays need no radiation at all and give the doctor a real-time image. Your doctor will use x-rays only when needed. This limits the amount of radiation you are exposed to.

Today’s dental x-rays are safe and effective tools used by dentists to examine your mouth, teeth, and gums. If you have any questions about dental x-rays, please call or contact us today.