Dental X-Ray 1

Dental X-Ray

Chances are that even if you don’t know much about dentistry in general, you do know one thing very well: the absolute best type of dental care is preventative dental care. Not only does this mean you must properly brush and floss your teeth every day, but you must also visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional dental cleanings and examinations. At least once a year (more often if you suffer from oral health issues or other general health issues) your dentist will want to take x-rays. This may seem like a costly and pointless procedure, but there are many reasons why it’s absolutely critical to your oral health.

The Purpose of Dental X-Rays

The purpose of a dental examination is, of course, to visually inspect a patient’s mouth in order to verify that it is as healthy as possible. However, dentists cannot see through their patients’ teeth and gums in order to verify that these too are also in an optimal state of health. By the time a patient is experiencing the type of discomfort that may indicate a problem in the teeth or gums, the problem may have moved from a minor issue that could’ve been relatively easily resolved to a more major problem that requires more thorough handling. This is where dental x-rays play an important part.

Dental x-rays, which include intraoral x-rays where the film is placed in the mouth and extraoral x-rays where the film is placed outside the mouth, permit dentists to see the tooth, bone and supporting tissues of the mouth in great detail, and far beyond what they can accomplish with the naked eye. This means that x-rays are helpful in detecting cavities, ascertaining the health of the bony area around the tooth and the root of the tooth, detecting and diagnosing periodontal disease, determining the status of developing teeth and more.

Intraoral x-rays include:

Bite-wing x-rays that show the molars and bicuspids. It is usually difficult for a dentist to detect whether there is decay or other issues occurring between the back molars, due both to their size and their location. Bite-wing x-rays can therefore provide a clear view of the health of these teeth.
Periapical x-rays that show one or two teeth at a time. These x-rays are designed to show the entire tooth, and are normally only ordered when the dentist has reason to suspect there may be an issue somewhere along the full length of the tooth.
Occlusal x-rays that show all the teeth in either the upper or lower jaw. These x-rays are often used for children in order to check on tooth development and placement, especially when spacing seems like it may be an issue.

Extraoral x-rays include:

  • Panoramic x-rays that show the entire mouth. While panoramic x-rays do not give as detailed a view as intraoral x-rays, they can yet be helpful in determining the overall health and positioning of the jaws and teeth.
  • Cephalometric x-rays that show the side of the head. These x-rays are often used by orthodontists as they give an idea of how the teeth are arranged against the jaw and the individual’s profile. This can help the orthodontist decide what type of treatment will best serve the individual’s needs.
  • Standard computer tomography that shows the entire head. These images can be particularly useful when an individual needs to have implants installed and the dentist must determine where and how to place them.

Getting Dental X-Rays

Receiving dental x-rays should be a relatively quick and entirely painless procedure. At the start of the procedure, your dental technician will cover you with a heavy lead apron in order to protect your body from radiation. For intraoral x-rays (the most common dental x-rays) you will be given a plastic apparatus to bite down on. Once the x-ray image has been taken, the apparatus will be moved to a different location in your mouth and the process repeated until all necessary images have been taken. Normally this takes only a couple of minutes, and it gives your dentist a much better idea of exactly what is happening in your mouth so that preventative care can continue forward successfully.


Request an Appointment