What are dental x-rays and why do you need them?

What are dental x-rays and why do you need them?

Anyone who regularly goes to the dentist knows that x-rays are a routine part of oral wellness. But what exactly is your dentist looking for, and what’s with the different types of dental x-rays? Simply stated, they are pictures of your teeth, bones, and soft tissue. When a dentist takes an x-ray, they are looking for a variety of things, including problems with your mouth and jaw in addition to your teeth. While some people are wary of routine dental x-rays because of radiation, know that dental x-rays use a low amount of radiation. However, if you are pregnant or have other reservations regarding radiation, it’s important to talk to your dentist.

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There are many different types of dental x-rays that are used for various purposes. Bitewings are a very common form of x-ray and they show your upper and lower back teeth. This type of x-ray checks for tooth decay, alignment, and bone loss. Periapical x-rays show your whole tooth all the way to the bone, which allows the dentist to check for issues below the gum line. With this x-ray, your dentist is looking for impactions, abscesses, cysts, tumors, and bone changes. Another type is an occlusal x-ray, which shows the roof or floor of your mouth. This can show the dentist extra teeth, teeth that haven’t broken through the gums yet, fractures, clefts, cysts, abscesses, growths, and even foreign objects. Finally, panoramic x-rays offer an overall view of your jaw, teeth, sinuses, nasal area, and jaw joints. These can show impacted teeth, bone abnormalities, cysts, tumors, infections, and fractures.

It’s obvious that dental x-rays check for a variety of oral problems and are a great asset to use to prevent decay and future problems. One of the main reasons x-rays are so important is because they can help the dentist determine a plan of treatment to minimize and treat problems. They can also be used before a procedure, such as a wisdom tooth extraction, or to follow up after a procedure or treatment. In a healthy person with low risk of cavities and decay, x-rays should be done every 1-3 years, depending on age. Children and people who are at higher risk should have x-rays done more frequently. As with any medical procedure, it’s important to be knowledgeable. Talk to your dentist if you have questions or reservations about routine dental x-rays.

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