X-rays may not be the first thing that you associated with a visit to your dentist, but they are a very important part of the diagnostic process. This is because a large proportion of the teeth are below the surface of the gum and therefore not visible to the naked eye. However, it is possible to see them using an x-ray.
Most patients are given dental x-rays at least once each year as part of their ongoing, comprehensive dental care. If you start to experience dental issues or your dentist is concerned that problems may be developing, you may be asked for additional x-rays to help diagnose the problem.
Some of the things that a dental x-ray shows your dentist includes:
The condition of your teeth
Areas of decay or damage below the gums
Decay beneath existing restorations such as fillings
Jaw placement and position, which can be invaluable in preparing for braces or dental implants
Any damage to the jaw such as fractures caused by a trip or fall
Facial bone composition and any bone loss that can occur as a result of tooth loss or aging
Cysts and some types of tumors
Teeth that are impacted (do not have enough space to come through)
If wisdom teeth are developing
If there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth (in children)
These can be invaluable in detecting a dental problem early, sometimes even before symptoms start to occur.
Many people are surprised to learn that there are different types of dental x-ray, each of which records a slightly different view of your mouth. The most common x-rays are known as intraoral x-rays since they are images of the inside of your mouth. Some of the most common intraoral x-rays include:
Bitewing: used to check for cavities between teeth and see how well the crowns of your teeth match up.
Occulusal: this looks at how your upper and bottom teeth line up.
Periapical: a technique that focuses on two complete teeth from root to crown.
Panoramic: the machine rotates around your head to check wisdom teeth, investigate jaw issues, or plan for dental implants.
Dental x-rays are no different from x-rays on other parts of the body. The energy used to create them is absorbed by dense objects – in this case, your teeth and bones – and passes through the less dense gums and cheeks. You’ll be asked to bite down on a special piece of equipment during your x-ray, and this will create the image that your dentist will use to assess your teeth.
The exposure to radiation in an x-ray is minimal and they are considered to be extremely safe in most circumstances. However, people who are pregnant or believe that they may be pregnant should avoid all x-rays.
If you have any other questions about dental x-rays, contact Midtown Dental Center in Atlanta, Georgia at (404) 874-0800 to speak to our highly experienced and knowledgeable dental team at your earliest opportunity.