When you visit your dentist for a checkup and cleaning, it’s customary to have dental X-rays taken at least once a year. But why is this a necessary part of your visit? What do you stand to gain from having your mouth and jaw photographed? Continue reading to get the answer from an expert!
Why Dental X-rays are Performed
The purpose of annual dental X-rays is for the dentist to track the progress of any previous problems or treatments. Ultimately, the frequency of X-rays will be based on your specific needs. Here are some of the factors that determine how often the diagnostic photos are taken:
- Your age
- The current state of your dental health
- A history of gum disease or tooth decay
- Whether there are any symptoms of oral disease
If you’re a new patient, you can definitely expect to have X-rays taken, as it’s a necessity for the dentist to establish a baseline for your dental health.
The Types of Dental X-rays
The most common dental X-rays are bitewing, periapical and panoramic radiographs. The following explains what each is used for:
- Bitewing – This is the most typical type of dental X-ray. It provides the dentist with a view of several teeth, to identify any potential dental health issues on the horizon.
- Periapical – The periapical X-ray is designed to capture a more comprehensive image of the entire tooth, from the top (crown) to the bottom (root). This is especially important before root canal therapy.
- Panoramic – Producing an image of the entire mouth, the panoramic X-ray allows the dentist to view the upper and lower jaws and sinus areas. This is helpful in identifying impaction, cysts, tumors, jaw disorders and bone irregularities.
Are Dental X-rays Safe?
Modern X-ray machines are designed to minimize radiation. Thus, the exposure levels are considered to be safe for children and adults. If your dentist uses digital X-rays instead of developing them on film, the risks from radiation exposure are even lower.
As an added measure of precaution, a protective bib will be placed over your chest, abdomen and pelvic region. This will help to prevent any unnecessary radiation exposure to your vital organs. For people with thyroid conditions, a special thyroid collar may be used. This may also be used for children and women of childbearing age.
There is an exception to the rule. Women who are pregnant or believe they may be pregnant should avoid all types of X-rays. When you visit, just let your dentist know, so that every precaution can be taken to protect you and your baby.
Dental X-rays provide an added line of defense against unwanted dental issues flaring up and derailing your normal life, but it all starts with getting in to visit your dentist in Dublin!
About the Author
Dr. Eric Buck is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. He uses the safest and most effective diagnostic tools during dental checkups. Dr. Buck practices at Distinctive Smiles, and he can be reached for more information or to schedule a visit through his website.