X-rays provide an important tool that shows the condition of your teeth, roots, jaw, and overall facial bone composition. X-rays can reveal the exact location of impacted and unerupted teeth, the presence or degree of periodontal disease, abscesses and many abnormal growths such as cysts and tumors. X-rays also help the dentist pinpoint the exact location of cavities and other signs of disease that may not be possible to detect through a visual examination.
In most cases, new patients require a full set of mouth X-rays. Follow-up visits may require X-rays to monitor the conditions of your gums.
X-rays are critical diagnostic tools your dentist uses to pinpoint cavities and spot other kinds of problems or conditions not visible to the naked eye.
There are three type of radiographs that are routinely taken:
- Bitewings are used to help diagnose cavities between the teeth.
- Periapical X-rays show the entire tooth, including the root and surrounding bone. These are useful in diagnosing an abscess, impacted tooth or bone loss from periodontal disease.
- Panoramic X-rays are a panoramic photograph that allows the dentist to see a broad view of the entire structure of your mouth, including your jaw, in a single image. Within one large film, panoramic X-rays reveal all of your upper and lower teeth and parts of your jaw. Panoramic X-rays are a very useful screening tool used for extracting wisdom teeth, and can reveal abnormal growths or cysts in the jaw bone.
Dentists are sensitive to your concerns about exposure to radiation from X-rays, and are trained to prescribe them when they are appropriate. State-of-the-art technology and staying abreast of the latest diagnostic advances allows your dentist to know which procedures and X-ray films can minimize your exposure to radiation. Digital Radiography lessens exposure to radiation.
All of the necessary precautions are taken to minimize your exposure to X-rays during a typical dental diagnostic procedure. Patients always wear a lead apron and thyroid collar to avoid unnecessary radiation to other parts of the body. Not everyone needs X-rays taken on a regular basis. However, some patients may need to have X-rays taken in order to address suspected problems in their teeth or tooth structures, gums, or jaw bones.
The ionizing radiation that you receive from one dental X-ray is substantially less that the radiation you receive every day in the sun. Advances in technology such as digital Xrays minimize radiation exposure. X-rays can diagnose certain conditions and help a condition from becoming worse; the benefit outweighs the risk.
X-ray films detect much more than cavities. For example, X-rays are needed to reveal erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, treat an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment.