While most people know that dental x-rays are an important part of routine dental checkups and examinations, not everyone knows exactly what dental x-rays can find or reveal. X-rays of the teeth help provide a full picture of the condition of your teeth and the state of your oral health in general. They provide images and visuals of the parts of our mouth and teeth that cannot be seen and examined through an oral exam alone. Dental X-rays can also help to identify potential issues early before they become painful or dangerous. This can save you money, stress and prevent unnecessary pain or discomfort, and in some cases, x-rays can prevent medical emergencies down the road.
What Things Can Dental X-Rays Find?
Decay/Cavities – X-rays can be very helpful in identifying decay that may be occurring below the gum line or between the teeth.
Decay Underneath Existing Fillings – Sometimes decay can occur beneath an existing filling, which would be impossible to see without an x-ray.
Bone Loss – When gum disease becomes advanced, it can result in bone loss. Identifying if bone loss is present is very important, and can only be done through dental x-rays.
Infection – Dental X-rays can reveal infections or abscesses that may be present in the root of a tooth or between the teeth and gums.
Prepare for Tooth Implants – When preparing for tooth implants, it is important to get a clear picture of the state of the gums and jawbones to ensure an implant procedure can be safely completed.
Monitor Baby Teeth/Adult Teeth in Children – X-rays can be very helpful in determining how a child is progressing in terms of losing baby teeth and gaining adult teeth. They can help to ensure that there is adequate space for the adult teeth to grow in, as well as make sure that the baby teeth are coming out in an appropriate time frame.
See the Placement and Condition of Wisdom Teeth – It is very important to watch the development of wisdom teeth and to watch for signs of impacted teeth or pressure on the other molars.
What Are the Different Kinds of X-Rays?
There two most common types of X-Rays that are used by Dentist are:
Intraoral X-Rays – These X-rays are the most frequently used by dentists. When taking intraoral x-rays, the film is placed inside the mouth. Intraoral x-rays can provide your dentist with a great amount of detail and will help to identify decay, cavities, the health of the tooth roots, and the overall status of your oral health.
Extraoral X-Rays – These x-rays are used to show the teeth, but their main function is to illustrate the health and condition of the jaw and skull. Unlike intraoral x-rays, these x-rays cannot offer the same level of detail of the teeth and are subsequently not useful for identifying cavities or issues with individual teeth. Extraoral X-rays are instead used to identify teeth that have become impacted, identify potential problems between the teeth, jaws, and related joints, and monitor the development and growth of the jaw as it relates to the teeth.
How Often Should I Get Dental X-Rays?
How often dental x-rays should be taken can depend on several factors. If you are a new patient, your dentist will likely want to take a full set of x-rays upon your first visit. This allows your dentist to get a full picture of the condition of your teeth and the state of your oral health in general.
Most dentists recommend that children have x-rays done once a year to ensure that their teeth are growing and developing as they should. Adults with existing concerns or at a higher risk for developing oral health conditions should also have x-rays done annually. For adults who are not at risk for decay or gum disease, the recommendation is that x-rays should be done every 2-3 years.
Generally speaking, dentists follow the guideline that x-rays should be done as infrequently as possible while also ensuring they are providing the best level of care and prevention. The frequency of dental x-rays is not one size fits all, and these decisions must be made on a case by case basis.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
While it is true that dental x-rays involve low levels of radiation exposure, these levels are so low that they are considered safe for both children and adults. At Stonegate Dental we offer digital x-rays, which further decrease radiation exposure. The exception to this is pregnancy, in which most dentists will recommend waiting to have x-rays done until after the baby has been born.
Dental X-rays are a vital part of proper dental care, and play a major role in determining the condition of your teeth and overall oral health. At Stonegate Dental, our staff and dentists employ the newest technology and safety features to ensure that your visit is smooth and stress-free. Contact our Guelph Dentists’ office today to schedule your appointment!