What You Need To Know About Dental X-Rays

Posted on: 27 May 2015

When getting your semi-annual checkup, your dentist may request that they take some x-rays of your teeth. Here is what you need to know about dental x-rays, including the kind of x-rays used and why x-rays are necessary.

What Kind Of X-Rays Can My Dentist Use?

Bitewing x-rays are the most common kind your dentist may use. As the name implies, it looks like a wing that you bite down. Your dentist will use several of them to get a full picture of what your mouth looks like. A bitewing x-ray is great for identifying decay that is between your teeth, alignment issues, and infection signs.

Occlusal x-rays are able to look at the floor and roof of your mouth for extra teeth, cysts, abscesses, or jaw fractures. It's often used when diagnosing a cleft palate, and problems with teeth that have not yet emerged.

Periapical x-rays allow for a more detailed look at an individual tooth, from the root to the crown. It can help identify abscesses, bone alterations, and impacted teeth.

Panoramic x-rays will show a much more broad view of your teeth, jaws, and sinuses. While they are not used for finding cavities, they can be used for finding tumors, impacted teeth, fractures, infections, and alterations to your bone structure.

What Are The Benefits Of Taking An X-Ray?

While there is always a risk involved when having an x-ray taken due to radiation exposure, sometimes those risks can outweigh the benefits. Since deterioration can start inside a tooth, they help your dentist identify problems before they are apparent on the surface.

It also allows your dentist to inspect the bones and tissues that surround your teeth, which they otherwise wouldn't be able to see. This includes teeth that have not yet reached the surface, but may need to be repositioned.

If you plan on having a major dental procedure done, such as a root canal, dental implants, or tooth extraction, an x-ray can help your dentist plan out the procedure and treatment prior to surgery.

How Are X-Rays Taken?

Your dentist will have you rinse your mouth out before taking an x-ray. A lead apron is used to protect you from radiation generated from the equipment. You hold onto the film by biting down on a thin strip of cardboard that prop-up the film vertically, and then repeat the process several times for different portions of your mouth. It is completely painless, and only takes a couple minutes to do.

Now that you know about dental x-rays, you will be more comfortable with having them taken at the dentist.