Dental X-rays play a critical role in oral health. They act as a useful diagnostic tool that dentists can use to detect damage and disease that may not be visible during a standard dental exam. X-rays are most commonly used to identify underlying problems relating to the teeth, but can also be used to diagnose conditions of the jaw and soft tissues of the mouth.
Many people wonder if dental X-rays are dangerous or could potentially cause harm. The truth is, that when administered by a trained and licensed professional, they are incredibly safe.
Why Dental X-Rays are Performed
Dental X-rays are a common component of a standard dental exam or checkup. A dentist may recommend one to check for signs of tooth decay, especially if the patient is complaining of tooth pain or sensitivity. In children, a Clermont dentist may suggest X-rays to monitor the growth of adult teeth. In some instances, baby teeth may need to be pulled to make room for emerging adult teeth.
An X-ray may also be performed following an injury to the mouth. Dentists often use them to track a patient’s healing to ensure that a full recovery is made. X-rays can also help dentists identify oral infections such as gingivitis before the problem worsens. Additionally, they may also assist orthodontists in determining whether a patient needs orthodontic treatment.
How Often are Dental X-Rays Given
Dental X-rays are typically performed just once a year during a patient’s annual cleaning and exam. However, more frequent exams may be recommended if your dentist is tracking the progress of a dental problem or treatment. Many different factors can influence how often a patient receives X-rays, such as the patient’s age, symptoms of oral disease, current oral health status and history of tooth decay and gum disease.
There are many different types of dental X-rays that use different procedure techniques and result in different types of radiographs. The most common types include:
- Bitewing – This type of dental X-ray is used to examine the crowns of the lower and upper teeth in one section of the mouth. They can also identify cavities in hard-to-see areas, as well as assess tooth fillings.
- Occlusal – These X-rays show the arch of the teeth from the bottom or top jaw.
- Periapical – A periapical X-ray displays a tooth from the root to the crown. This type is usually performed to look for tooth root issues or oral health problems that affect the jaw bone.
- Orthodontic – These X-rays are used to depict the side of a young patient’s head.
- Panoramic – Panoramic X-rays show the entire mouth and may be used to track tooth development in a child before orthodontics is recommended.
- Cone Beam Computerized Tomography (CBCT) – A CBCT provides a 3D view of the mouth. This view helps the dentists access tooth development and spacing.
It is common to be concerned about the harmful effects of dental X-rays because they expose the patient to radiation. However, the exposure levels are so low that they are deemed safe for both children and adults. The risks of radiation from a dental X-ray are even lower when a dentist uses digital X-rays instead of developing the radiographs on film.
During a dental X-ray, depending on the type of machine, your dentist will either have you wear or place a lead apron across your chest, stomach and pelvic region. This bib is designed to prevent the patient from receiving unnecessary radiation exposure. Children, women of childbearing age, and individuals with thyroid conditions may also wear a thyroid collar along with the lead bib as an additional safety measure.
While dental X-rays are deemed safe, women who are pregnant or think they could be pregnant should avoid them until after birth if possible. Inform your dentist in Clermont if you are pregnant or believe you could be pregnant.
Contact Your Dentist in Clermont, FL
Don’t overlook the importance of dental X-rays for your oral health. At Hancock Village Dental, we take your health very seriously. Thus, we only offer digital X-rays. For more information about this diagnostic tool or to schedule an appointment at our Clermont, Fl office, contact Hancock Village Dental today.