Why are Dental X Rays Important?
Why are Dental X rays Important?
X-Rays Let Us See Under The Surface of Your Teeth
When you attend for a dental examination we will visually assess the surface of your teeth and gums for any problems.
Whilst the dental X-rays allow us to look underneath the surface of the tooth.
Dental X-rays work like the medical X-rays used to diagnose a broken arm and allow us to see all the different parts of your teeth. From the crown to the root as well as the gum health, infections/abscesses.
X-Rays Help With Finding Small Issues Before They Become Big Problems
One of the primary reasons dentists take X-rays is to find dental issues that aren't visible to the naked eye. X-rays allow your dentist to look past the tissue of your mouth, such as your gums, and into the deeper areas of your teeth and jaw bone. These images allow your dentist to identify dental issues early, which may prevent future more advanced decay or gum infection.
A Child's Growth and Development Can Be Monitored
For children, dental X-rays are necessary to closely monitor the progress of the adult teeth and the jaw's growth and development. We also use dental X-rays to assess the bone's health that surrounds the root of the tooth, known as the alveolar bone, as well as look for missing teeth that haven't made their way up through the gums.
The earlier we can spot problems the quicker we can deal with any teeth that might not be growing properly.
Factors That Determine How Often You Need X-Rays
Dental X-rays are typically performed every two years. However, it may be necessary for them to be taken more often if your dentist is tracking the process of a dental issue or the success of a previous treatment.
If you are prone to tooth decay, your dentist may advise more regular dental X-ray exams.
In some cases, dental procedures, like a root canal, dental implant, or even a filling, may require additional diagnostic x-rays. The images of the tooth and surrounding areas will enable your dentist to plan your treatment accordingly.
Today, dental imaging normally uses special digital imaging techniques to take a detailed picture of your teeth – and may lead to further dental treatment depending on the results.
Problems that X-Rays can pick up:
- Tooth decay: It can be difficult to spot the signs of tooth decay with the naked eye. However, the digital sensors result in an extremely detailed X-ray film that can reveal the state of the teeth very clearly. Our digital dental imaging plates are much more precise and make it easier to spot signs of tooth decay.
- Gum disease: Because a digital X-ray will look at the bones underneath the soft tissue, we can assess the damage of any existing gum disease and track its progression. Which provide us with a clear way to assess the amount of bone loss that gum disease may have caused over time.
- Bone changes: If you have had root canals, implants and many other dental procedures then your teeth and jawbones may have changed.
- By using a dental X-ray, it is possible to see underneath a tooth without removing an implant and determine the health of every individual tooth.
- Impacted Wisdom Teeth
- Abscesses or Infection: Dental X rays can be used in the early detection of any infection or abscesses that might develop in a tooth, long before it becomes a problem in your mouth
How Does a Dental X-Ray Work
The process of a dental X-ray is very straightforward and routine, you will be unaware of any sensations and the only sign that an X-ray is taking place is the noise of the machine.
Intraoral X-rays, meaning the X-ray film is inside the mouth, routinely your dentist will ask you to bite onto the x ray sensor to keep it steady. They will then position the x -ray machine, to capture the digital image.
Digital dental X-rays are very detailed, and dentists can enhance them or change the size to get a better image. Overall, the X-ray procedure is usually as follows:
Who Need’s Dental X-Rays?
At some point, most people will need a dental X-ray. The majority of people will have been having X-rays on their teeth from a very young age. However, several groups are more likely to require multiple X-rays, these include the following:
- Children: As a child’s teeth and jaws develop, there is a greater risk for tooth decay to occur.
- A dental X-ray can help to detect any issues, as children’s teeth develop so your dentist can help with treatment if a tooth is missing or slow to come through.
- Adults: Adults with a lot of fillings, veneers and other dental work will need X-rays more frequently, to see underneath the teeth and look for signs of decay. Adults with existing tooth decay are highly likely to develop it elsewhere.
- Smokers and people with high-sugar diets: Smoking can easily lead to gum disease and consuming a lot of sugar means that cavities are much more likely to develop. Both groups will require more frequent dental X-rays.
High-risk groups might have more frequent dental X-rays, as well as more visits to the dentist in general.
Practising good dental hygiene is the best way to avoid having to undergo frequent X-rays on your teeth, as well as many other health issues.
If the images show any problems, such as decay, the dentist will discuss treatment options with you.
What Your Dentist Does Next
If there are indeed areas of infection or tooth decay, your dentist may decide to take another X-ray to further investigate the area and help to decide how to best treat the area.
This can provide more information such as the scope of the infection or if there are possible cysts, abscesses and/or tumors.
If you have impacted wisdom teeth, the X-rays will also give the dentist an idea of the best steps for removal.
The Frequency of Dental X-rays
How often do you need these types of X-rays? This depends on your age and individual oral health.
Children and young adults often require oral X-rays more frequently because their teeth and jaws are still developing.
Alternatively, X-rays will likely be taken if you switch to a new dentist so that we can identify any problems with your teeth and/or gums.
Eighty percent of decay occurs between the teeth. If a visual exam is done alone you miss 80 percent of potential decay. An X-ray can also show what’s under a tooth crown, for example.
Are there different types of X-rays?
Yes, there are various different types of x-rays. The first is a bitewing x-ray. A bitewing x-ray is used to detect or confirm decay in teeth as well as help to assess the presence of gum disease between teeth.
A Periapical film, otherwise known in dental terms as a PA. A PA x-ray shows the entire tooth, tooth roots, and the surrounding bone. These images are used to examine root tips of teeth, diagnose bone loss due to gum disease, diagnosing cysts and abscesses as well as detecting inflammation of the bone due to infections within the root canals of teeth.
An Orthopantomogram or as we refer to as an OPG is a panoramic or wide view x-ray of the lower face, which displays all the teeth of the upper and lower jaw on a single film. It demonstrates the number, position, and growth of all the teeth including those that have not yet surfaced or erupted. It is different from the small close up x-rays dentists take of individual teeth. An OPG may also reveal problems with the jawbone and the joint which connects the jawbone to the head called the Temporomandibular joint or TMJ.
An OPG may be requested for the planning of orthodontic treatment, for assessment of wisdom teeth or for a general overview of the teeth and the bone which supports the teeth.
- To detect tooth decay, jawbone damage, and injuries to tooth roots
- To observe the position of teeth and locate any crowding or impacted teeth
- To make sure children’s permanent teeth are growing properly
- To check for cysts, tumors, or abscesses
- To plan and coordinate treatment for severe cavities, root canals, dental implants, extractions, and orthodontics
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
However, dental X-rays use an insignificant amount of radiation in a small and controlled area. A set of two to four bitewing X-rays (for back teeth) represent a 0.005 millisievert (mSv, a unit of radiation) exposure.
The average person is exposed to 3.2 mSv of environmental radiation each year.
That means you would have to have about 600 sets of X-rays just to equal the level of natural exposure.
IN addition your dentist is trained to take x rays in a safe and effective way to ensure that the x-ray beam is not pointed towards any major parts of your body.