Dental X-rays Explained

Dental X-rays (radiographs) are a diagnostic tool that help to diagnose issues that are not visible to the human eye. There are two main types:

  • Intraoral (the X-ray film is inside the mouth)
  • Extraoral (the X-ray film is outside the mouth)

Intraoral are the most common type of dental x-rays and there are several types, including:

  • Bitewing – shows the details of the upper and lower teeth in one area of the mouth.
  • Periapical – shows the whole tooth — from the crown, to beyond the root where the tooth attaches into the jaw.
  • Occlusal – track the development and placement of an entire arch of teeth in either the upper or lower jaw.

The most common extraoral X-ray is a panoramic, which shows the entire mouth. This type of X ray is used to view the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), bone levels, missing teeth, impacted teeth, cysts, sinus health, and more.

What to Expect

Bitewing X-rays are commonly recommended once per year, but this can vary depending on the patient. Not only can the timing vary, but the type of X-rays needed may vary from patient to patient. Whatever type of X-rays your dentist prescribes your experience will be quick and comfortable.

You may require a higher frequency of X-rays if you fall into the following categories:

  • Children: Generally need more frequent X-rays, as developing teeth and jaws need to be monitored as they grow. Their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than adults.
  • Adults with a lot of restorative work: Examine for decay beneath existing restorations or in new areas.
  • People who drink a lot of sugary beverages: Higher risk of tooth decay.
  • Those with periodontal (gum) disease: Monitor bone loss.
  • Experiencing dry mouth: Dry mouth conditions can increase the risk of tooth decay.
  • Smokers: To monitor bone loss that results from gum disease (smokers are at increased risk of gum disease).

We pride ourselves in using the latest technology. You will find that we use all digital equipment with the most cutting edge technology. This allows us to be effective and efficient, ensuring that our patients remain comfortable

X-ray Safety

Dental X-rays are completely safe. It is a very small amount of radiation that the body is exposed to and the chance of side effects are very small and quite rare. Our clinic utilizes digital X-ray technology to further limit radiation exposure as well as increase patient comfort. Because of the small exposure to radiation heavy weighted lead aprons are no longer required. Furthermore, we follow the ALARA principle, which stands for “As Low As Reasonably Achievable,” when obtaining radiographs.

“When we moved here, we needed to find a dentist. These guys are great. Very friendly and helpful, and you can’t beat evening hours! Great with insurance and very quick to answer questions. In fact, they have even called when I told them how desperate I was for a specific time. I have no complaints. Oh, and the dentists take great care in knowing that you are comfortable during any of their procedures.”

— Kristen C.

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