It seems everyone these days is concerned about the x-rays taken in the dental office. There are concerns about the exposure to the radiation and the long term effects on health. I would like to use this as an opportunity to explain what an x-ray is, along with a few of the different types of x-rays taken, and the purpose they serve.
Dental X-rays are pictures of the teeth, bones, and soft tissues around them to help find problems with the teeth, mouth, and jaw. X-ray pictures can show cavities, hidden dental structures (such as wisdom teeth), and bone loss that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Dental X-rays may also be done as follow-up after dental treatments.
Bitewing X-rays show the upper and lower back teeth and how the teeth touch each other in a single view. These X-rays are used to check for decay between the teeth and to show how well the upper and lower teeth line up.
Periapical X-rays show an entire tooth, from the exposed crown to the end of the root and the bones that support the tooth. These X-rays are used to find dental problems below the gum line or in the jaw, such as impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts, tumors, and bone changes linked to some diseases.
Panoramic X-rays show a broad view of the jaws, teeth, sinuses, nasal area, and temporomandibular (jaw) joints. These X-rays do show problems such as impacted teeth, bone abnormalities, cysts, solid growths (tumors), infections, and fractures.
A full mouth series of x-rays consists of 14-21 periapical x-ray films. They are most often done during a person’s first visit to the dentist. Bitewing x-rays are usually used during check-ups to look for tooth decay. Panoramic x-rays are commonly used at the oral surgeon or orthodontist office.
We are exposed to radiation in everyday life. Radiation can be found in certain foods, as well as in housing and other areas. With the onset of digital radiographs, the amount of radiation in the dental office has decreased. X-rays provide your dentist with valuable information that helps you maintain a healthy mouth. Your dental health is our primary goal!
Here’s to September!