All About Dental X-Rays

Black woman in dental chair with light shining on mouthYou’ve probably had X-rays of your teeth taken several times before, but how much do you actually know about this common dental service? It turns out that many folks have questions about dental X-rays, and we’re happy to answer them. Keep reading to learn everything you ever wanted to know about dental X-rays, from Cumming family dentist Dr. Jordan

What to Know About Dental X-Rays

What is the purpose of X-raying your teeth? 

Dental X-rays, or radiographs, are similar to the X-rays you may have experienced after breaking a bone; they just happen to be in your mouth. Instead of looking for fractures or breaks to diagnose a broken bone, we take dental X-rays to see the inside of your teeth and evaluate your oral health. This allows us to identify cavities and other tooth problems early, which makes them easier to treat. We can also monitor fillings, crowns, and the like to make sure they’re in good condition. Catching an issue early can save you a lot of pain, money, and even the tooth itself. 

How often should you get dental X-rays?

Most people need dental X-rays every couple of years, but it depends on the patient. Your age, overall oral health, and even medical conditions can necessitate more frequent X-rays. 

Is the radiation from X-rays dangerous?

No, the amount of radiation a patient receives from a standard dental X-ray is extremely small at .005 mSv—that’s less than one day of natural background radiation, and about the same as the amount of radiation exposure you’d experience on a 2 hour airplane flight. Dentists use lead aprons to protect the patient’s organs from radiation as well. 

Here at Jordan Dentistry, we’re able to take dental X-rays with even less radiation exposure thanks to digital X-rays! This technology not only uses less radiation (up to a 90% decrease from traditional X-rays), but also provides instant results and allows the dentist to zoom in for a more detailed view. It’s all part of our mission to catch dental problems early and keep your teeth as healthy as possible!

What are the types of dental X-rays?

There are 5 types of dental X-rays: 

  • Panoramic X-rays image your entire mouth using a rotating arm that swings around your head to capture your teeth from many angles. 
  • Periapical X-rays are taken using a film attached to a metal rod. They allow us to see the entire tooth, from the top chewing surface all the way to the root deep in your gums. 
  • Bitewing X-rays require you to bite down on a stiff piece of plastic containing the film, or for digital X-rays, a small plastic-encased box. 
  • Full mouth survey X-rays are taken to get a baseline picture of your dental health, often when you visit a new dentist, or to assist in treating major dental issues like root canals. 
  • Occlusal X-rays are taken much like bitewing X-rays, and are usually used for pediatric patients to help dentists identify the placement of teeth even before they’ve emerged from the gums.

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