Many existing or developing problems are not visible with a routine visual examination. X-rays (or radiographs) are an important part of any dental treatment plan. In general, x-rays expose the hidden structures of your teeth, gums and jawbone. Your dentist may miss early decay forming invisibly between teeth without the aid of an x-ray.
Digital X-rays are pictures of the teeth and bone that assist your dental team in diagnosing developing issues in your mouth. Prevention or early detection of dental problems saves you time, money, and unexpected emergencies. In addition, you will enjoy the lasting use of your teeth!
How often x-rays are needed depends on each patient. Your dental health team will work with you to determine your needs.
We may recommend a full series of dental x-rays for new patients to ensure we have a complete picture of your current dental health. This x-ray series is usually good for several years.
Bite wing x-rays provide a visual of how the teeth touch one another and help detect tooth decay. A bite-wing is an x-ray taken with the top and bottom teeth together. These x-rays are often done at recall visits.
A periapical x-ray is an x-ray to capture the whole tooth. It provides a visual from the crown, which is the chewing surface, to the bone that helps support the tooth below the gum line. This x-ray is used to detect problems below the gum line within the jaw, such as impacted teeth, fractures, abscesses, tumors and other changes to the bone linked to disease.
A panoramic x-ray provides an extraoral and simple-to-perform view of the mouth from ear to ear. Panoramic x-rays are only taken on an as-needed basis. They are important in treatment planning for orthodontic treatment, positioning of wisdom teeth or dental implants. The process is quick and painless. Panoramic film is placed in a mechanism that rotates around the outside of the head, as opposed to x-ray film inside the mouth. Since panoramic x-rays are non-invasive, a patient with an extreme gag reflex may benefit from such an x-ray.
Occlusal X-rays highlight overall tooth development. They provide views from the floor and roof of the mouth to detect developmental issues. Occlusal x-rays can be used to see extra teeth, teeth not yet broken through the gums, cleft palates and more. They have even detected embedded foreign objects.
Are Digital X-rays safe?
Digital X-rays are safe and performed by our trained team of dental professionals. Accordingly, they are an essential tool in preventing serious dental issues. Digital X-rays produce much less radiation than traditional dental x-rays. To compare, the amount of radiation in a full mouth series is less than your daily radiation exposure from natural sources.
If you have more questions about x-ray safety, please discuss your concerns with your dental team. We are here to help you make an informed decision and provide accurate and honest answers.