You brush your teeth twice per day. You floss your teeth everyday. You avoid foods and drinks that damage your teeth and gums. Overall, you have pretty healthy mouth. As far as you can see.
During a regular check-up, your dentist may perform a dental x-ray. Here is what they are doing and why you need it.
Just like medical doctors use x-rays and other scanning methods to see things in places the naked eye cannot go, your dentist will often use x-rays to find problems he or she otherwise wouldn’t be able to see.
Problems within the teeth and gums begin small and usually begin in hard-to-see places. The x-ray, or radiograph, is the perfect tool for finding small issues before they become big problems.
When your dentist orders an x-ray, he or she will be to perform during the normal check-up within the dental office. The process is short, painless, and safe.
An x-ray, depending on which type (more on this later), can offer a picture of many things. Your dentist is looking for particular signs of a few different oral issues.
- Your dentist is looking for cavities.
- Your dentist is looking at the health of tooth roots.
- Your dentist is checking on developing teeth.
- Your dentist is checking the health of the bone around the tooth.
- Your dentist is looking for decay behind your back teeth.
- Your dentist is looking for any potential causes of gum disease.
- Your dentist is monitoring your teeth’s health through prevention.
Any of these issues, if left unnoticed and untreated, can cause very serious oral and general health issues. Your dentist can use the information he or she gets from your x-ray to make informed decisions about future necessary care.
Different Types of Dental X-Rays
Your dentist may notice particular issues during your oral exam he or she will want to see closer or at a particular angle. There are a few different types of x-rays he or she can perform.
During this procedure, your dentist will have you bite down on two wing-shaped devices that holds the film during the x-ray. This x-ray allows your dentist to see both sides of your mouth, looking closely at your molars and the teeth just in front of your molars.
Your dentist may want a more complete look at a one or two particular teeth. In this case, your dentist will use a periapical x-ray, which can show the whole length of the selected teeth, from crown to root.
This is widescreen vision of your mouth. This single x-ray takes a photo of both upper and lower jaws of teeth. The special machinery moves in a path around your mouth and patients need to be kept perfectly still during the procedure.
With conventional x-rays, your dentist must print out two images and look at them side-by-side to notice what could turn out to be small but important changes. Digital x-rays put images of your mouth and into a computer and allows small changes of your teeth to be found earlier and with more clarity. Digital x-rays can also use half the radiation of traditional x-rays.