What Story Does a Dental X-Ray Tell?
Your dentist may be good, but she or he doesn’t have superhuman vision and not all tooth or gum damage is visible to the human eye. X-rays tell your dentist quite a story, and not just about your teeth. Dental x-rays show the condition of your roots, your jaw placement and the composition of your facial bones. But most frequently, your dentist uses x-rays to check for cavities, gum disease, impacted teeth and abscesses, cysts or tumors.
Are Dental X-Rays Dangerous?
Some people are concerned about exposure to radiation when they get dental x-rays. The technician does step out of the room and the protective covering is heavy. But those two things tell you that dental professionals understand how important it is to minimize exposure to radiation. The amount of radiation from a typical dental x-ray is about equal to the daily exposure to work- or school-related paper, books, newspapers, etc. (due to the small amounts of radioactive materials in wood used to make paper).
There are still people who cite research studies that recommend dental x-ray caution. But, as the American Dental Association pointed out, much of the data in those research studies was based on now-outdated equipment. Modern x-ray technology has reduced radiation exposure to at least half of that from outdated equipment.
Types of Dental X-Rays
Bitewing x-rays identify decay between teeth. Patients hold or bite down on a piece of plastic that has x-ray film in the center.
Periapical x-rays show the entire tooth, including roots and allow your dentist to assess root structure and bone level, and results identify any changes over time. A periapical x-ray also detects cysts and abscesses.
Panoramic x-ray is an image of your whole mouth in all its toothy glory, and part of your jaw. Because the image is flat versus the curved real-life version, it’s a clearer image of the big picture and can predict children’s tooth development. Panoramic x-rays also give dentists an idea of potential wisdom teeth complications.
X-Rays Are An Important Part of Preventative Dental Care
Twice-daily flossing and brushing, and regular dental checkups with x-rays are effective preventive procedures when it comes to oral hygiene. When making your personal decision about dental x-rays, it is most important to understand that undetected dental or gum problems are a greater health risk than the minimal radiation exposure from a dental x-ray.
If you have questions or concerns about dental x-rays, start a conversation with your dentist.
Until next time… Keep on Smiling!