Dental X-Rays

Dental x-rays are valuable diagnostic tools. They create images that are called “radiographs”. Radiographs show areas of your mouth that are otherwise not visible during a clinical exam. These include the bones of the jaws, teeth that have not yet erupted, areas between two teeth etc.

Radiographs are important and can sometimes detect diseases and conditions that the dentist may not have found out otherwise. Getting an early diagnosis can be very beneficial and save you both time and pain.

What do x-rays show?

  • They show tooth decay in areas that are otherwise difficult to visualize.

  • They reveal recurrent decay under fillings.

  • Bone destruction due to infection, abscesses, etc.

  • Bone loss caused by gum disease

  • Traumatic injuries

  • Tumors

  • Growth related problems

  • The position and presence of unerupted teeth in the jaws of children and adults.

Types of Dental Radiographs:-

1. Bitewing radiographs – These show both the upper and lower teeth of a small area of your mouth on the x-ray film.

2. Periapical Radiographs – These show the crown and root of teeth of either the upper or lower jaw in a small area.

3. Panoramic Radiograph – These show the entire mouth along with other structures. But these images are not very clear. They are good for determining the eruption status of teeth.

4. Complete Series – Refers to a group of bitewing and periapical radiographs that show all the teeth and related areas of jaws.

Are Dental X-rays Safe?

Dental x-rays cause very little radiation exposure. Nevertheless, the following are kept in mind before taking a radiograph:-

  • X-rays are taken only when the diagnosis depends on it.

  • The x-ray tube head is kept as close to the sensor as possible to reduce area of x-ray exposure.

  • Protective shield is placed over vital organs, like the thyroid gland (neck).

  • If you are pregnant, notify the radiographer. Although it is better if pregnant women are not exposed to x-rays, sometimes not taking the x-ray can lead to serious problems for both the mother and the baby.

  • If you have head and neck cancer and are receiving radiotherapy for it, you are susceptible to tooth decay. Regular dental x-rays have minimal exposure as compared to the dose you receive during radiation treatment. Getting an x-ray exam can help you detect early decay and get them treated.

Are There Rules About Dental X-rays?

State government and regulatory bodies have recommendations and guidelines regarding the use of x-rays. Your dental office will be following these guidelines. For more details, contact your dentist or radiographer.

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