Dental X-rays (radiographs) are images of your teeth that your dentist uses to evaluate your oral health. These X-rays are used with low levels of radiation to capture images of the interior of your teeth and gums. This can help your dentist to identify problems, like cavities, tooth decay, and impacted teeth. Dental X-rays may seem complex, but they’re actually very common tools that are just as important as your teeth cleanings.
Dental X-rays are typically performed yearly, or more often if your dentist is tracking the progress of a dental problem or treatment.
Factors affecting how often you get dental X-rays may include:
Your current oral health
Any symptoms of oral disease
History of gum disease (gingivitis) or tooth decay
If you’re a new patient, you will probably undergo dental X-rays so that your new dentist can get a clear picture of your dental health. This is especially important if you don’t have any X-rays from your previous dentist. Children may need to have dental X-rays more often than adults because their dentists might need to monitor the growth of their adult teeth. This is important because it can help the dentist determine if baby teeth need to be pulled to prevent complications, such as adult teeth growing in behind baby teeth.
Risks of Dental X-Rays
While dental X-rays do involve radiation, the exposed levels are so low they’re considered safe for children and adults. If your dentist uses digital X-rays instead of developing them on film, your risks from radiation exposure are even lower. Your dentist will also place a lead “bib” over your chest, abdomen, and pelvic region to prevent any unnecessary radiation exposure to your vital organs. A thyroid collar may be used in the case of thyroid conditions. Children and women of childbearing age may also wear them along with the lead bib.
Pregnancy is an exception to the rule. Women who are pregnant or believe they may be pregnant should avoid all types of X-rays. Tell your dentist if you believe you are pregnant, because radiation is not considered safe for developing fetuses.
Types of X-Rays
There are several types of dental X-rays, which record slightly different views of your mouth. The most common are intraoral X-rays, such as:
Bitewing: This technique involves biting down on a special piece of paper so your dentist can see how well the crowns of your teeth match up. This is commonly used to check for interdental cavities.
Occlusal: This X-ray is done when your jaw is closed to see how your upper and bottom teeth line up, and can also detect anatomical abnormalities with the floor of the mouth or the palate.
Palatal: This technique captures all of your teeth in one shot.
Panoramic: For this type of X-ray, the machine rotates around the head. Your dentist may use this technique to check your wisdom teeth, plan for implanted dental devices, or investigate jaw problems.
Periapical: This technique focuses on two complete teeth from root to crown.
Like brushing and flossing, regular dental X-rays are an integral part of your overall oral health and that is why at Corne Smith Dentistry your check-up’s always include x-rays. So why not visit your Claremont dentist for the best dental care in Cape Town.
To watch a video about Dental X-Rays please click here