It’s time for your six-month dental checkup, and you’re ready for a good old-fashioned cleaning. But when you walk into our Fremont, California office, they let you know you need dental x-rays today. You didn’t expect that, and you probably think you don’t need them anyway. I mean your mouth is perfectly fine.
Or is it?
The truth is, getting dental x-rays done regularly can help catch lots of things that you can’t see. That’s right, Your Caring Dentist Group is playing Superman, and that x-ray vision can come in mighty handy.
All About Dental X-Rays
Dental x-rays are pictures of the teeth, bones, and soft tissues around them to help find mouth problems with the teeth and jaw.
These x-ray pictures can show cavities, hidden dental structures (such as wisdom teeth), and bone loss. These potential issues can’t be seen during a visual examination. They help your dental professionals take better care of your whole mouth.
And if you’re worried about radiation, don’t be.
While there is a small risk whenever you have exposure to radiation, and you will be, it’s a low dose. And the National Academy of Sciences states that x-rays shouldn’t keep you from seeing your dentist for care.
When we’re talking about dental x-rays, there are different types that dentists use for various purposes.
Bitewings show the upper and lower back teeth in a single view. These x-rays are beneficial in locating decay between the teeth. They also show how well the upper and lower teeth line up.
They are also instrumental in showing bone loss which occurs with severe gum disease or a dental infection.
This type shows the entire tooth, from the exposed crown to the end of the root and the bones that support the tooth. These x-rays are used to find dental problems below the gum line or in the jaw including:
- Impacted teeth
- And bone changes linked to some diseases
By showing a broad view of the jaws, teeth, sinuses nasal area, and temporomandibular (jaw) joints, panoramic x-rays are very useful for your dentist.
They show problems such as impacted teeth, bone abnormalities, cysts, solid growths (tumors), infections, and fractures.
The great thing about digital dental x-rays is they are available almost instantly on a computer where the data records and saves. These can be especially useful for historical purposes and consults with other dental professionals.
No more need to carry giant x-rays around from place to place. Need a consult? The dentist can send the x-rays over the internet for you.
When Dental X-Rays Are Done
On your first visit to the dentist, they usually perform a full-mouth series of x-rays. The bitewing x-rays are used during checkups to look for tooth decay.
In addition to that, panoramic x-rays may be used occasionally when needed.
Dental x-rays are added to dental exam schedules on a person by person basis. The frequency depends on your age, the risk for disease, other x-ray exposure, and signs of disease.
Keeping Yourself Safer
We discussed the low levels of radiation, and although scientists assure us that the levels are safe for adults and children, x-rays involve risk. Those risks include cancer.
Now before you panic, take note:
If you’re concerned about the radiation from exposure and it’s possible consequences, insist on digital x-rays. These types of x-rays expose you to even lower levels of radiation.
Plus, your dentist will place a lead bib over you to protect the rest of your organs. You may also request a thyroid collar to protect your neck.
In other words, your risk is very minimal. Now, if you’re pregnant, that’s a different story. Pregnant women should avoid all x-rays — including dental ones.
Digging into the Reasons for Dental X-Rays
We’ve touched on some of the reasons for dental x-rays and what the different types of x-rays are. But the benefits of getting your dental x-rays done don’t stop there.
Here are some more things this helpful superpower assists your dentist in finding:
- Problems in the mouth such as tooth decay, damage to the bones supporting the teeth, and dental injuries (such as broken tooth roots).
- Teeth that are not in the right place or do not break through the gum correctly become impacted.
- Cysts, solid growths (tumors/ cancers), or abscesses.
- The location of permanent teeth growing in the jaw in children who still have their primary (or baby) teeth.
Imagine finding out you have a problem or a potential problem before it’s even a problem. You can’t get much more proactive than that.
It helps to plan
It’s hard to make a plan blind, but with the magic of the x-ray machine and your dentist, you can make a solid dental plan.
If your dentist finds a problem or an issue they need to address, they can use your x-rays to develop the best course of action to fix it.
Don’t believe it? Take a look at how your dentist can use your dental x-rays. They can:
- Plan treatment for large or extensive cavities, root canal surgery, placement of dental implants, and difficult tooth removals.
- Plan orthodontic treatment for teeth that aren’t coming in straight
It would be pretty difficult to devise a plan without a view from the inside.
Help Your Dentist Help You
You might be intimidated when you walk in the office and realize you’re due for x-rays. But getting your dental x-rays done is an essential step to the best overall oral care.
Not only can your dentist see what’s going on in your entire mouth and jaw, but they can also make a plan to help.
So, next time your dentist tells you it’s time for your dental x-rays, don’t balk. Let them use their superpowers. It’s the only way they can show you top-notch oral care.
When is the last time you got dental x-rays? Do you remember what type you got? Tell us all about your experience in the comments!