Learn More about Dental X-rays
What Are Dental X-rays?
Dental x-rays are pictures of teeth and bone structures that a dentist takes to examine the oral health of patients. The x-rays are also called radiographs. The x-rays feature low levels of radiation that get through to the interiors of teeth, gums, and bones. These images are what the dentist use to identify underlying oral issues. Dental x-rays are nothing to be afraid of because they are not pain-inflicting. If anything, they are as necessary as teeth cleanings for the overall health of your teeth.
Why Do You Need A Dental X-ray?
When you visit a dentist, the first thing they do is not x-rays. A dentist has to thoroughly look into your oral health before ascertaining, which dental treatment is needful for your situation. An oral x-ray is not something that should do every time you visit a dentist. A typical x-ray of teeth is performed once annually. However, if your condition requires more within a year, then your dentist will recommend it. Some of the reasons that affect how often you may need an x-ray for your teeth include:
- Age – Children require more dental x-rays than adults. Typically, kids are still growing, and their teeth and bone structures are developing and changing. Regular dental x-rays, in such cases, will help the pediatric dentist keep up with the oral health of the child. Other than that, adults do not necessarily need to have many x-rays performed.
- Demanding oral condition – Some dental problems cannot be solved without identifying other issues within the internal structure of the teeth and bone structure. For example, if a patient has been complaining about a toothache, a panoramic x-ray is necessary. The x-ray will take half-circle scans of the upper and lower jaw to find the underlying causes of the toothache. Other than mere tooth decay, the toothache can result from the temporomandibular joint disorder.
- Symptoms of oral disease – During the regular checkups at your dentist’s office, signs of dental disease can necessitate a dental x-ray. This is especially useful when the dentist is not certain about what the problem is.
- Gum disease – Advanced stages of gum disease, otherwise known as periodontitis, can have excessive effects on teeth and the surrounding tissues. The disease causes receding of the gum tissue, leaving the roots of teeth exposed and prone to damage. An x-ray may, therefore, be necessary to ascertain that the teeth and the bone structures are intact and not severely damaged.
- First dental checkup – If it is your first time at a certain dental clinic, an x-ray may be necessary to help the dentist get ahead of your oral medical record.
Different Types of X-rays
- Bitewing – The patient bites down on a piece of paper that is specially made for dental work. The piece of paper will help your dentist identify how well aligned your dental crowns are and whether they match up. It is a common x-ray when testing and checking for cavities present between teeth.
- Occlusal – The x-ray is used to check the alignment of the upper and the lower jaw when the mouth is closed. It is a useful radiography for TMD. It captures all the teeth in the mouth in a single shot. The x-ray can also identify anomalies in the roof and floor of your mouth. It is common for children to have an occlusal x-ray performed to check the development of their teeth and changes in their bone structure. This will help identify the baby teeth and adult teeth for tooth extraction when necessary.
- Panoramic – This is the type of x-ray that rotates around the head of a patient. The machine is useful in checking the far and back internal parts of the mouth. For this reason, the panoramic x-ray is useful for checking the state of wisdom teeth, as well as checking jaw problems. It is also the best way to plan for dental implant treatments in restorative dentistry for back teeth.
- Periapical – A periapical x-ray is used to shed light on the entire structure of the tooth. It focuses on both the crown and root of a tooth to analyze its health.