Dental x-rays are used to diagnose issues that are not seen with the naked eye. This includes cavities, jaw bone loss, infection and gum disease to name a few.
Traditionally, dentists have used film x-rays in the past, but many are now going digital. Here at Taylor Cosmetic Dental we are proud providers of digital x-ray technology services. We know the financial investment is worth the benefits it provides to our patients.
How Do Dental X-Rays Work?
As the x-ray passes through your mouth, your teeth and bones absorb the ray more than the gum and soft tissues. The absorption causes the teeth and bones to appear lighter on the image. If you have tooth decay, infection, impacted wisdom teeth or even a cyst, it will also be more visible and allow us to identify and diagnose it.
What Is A Digital X-Ray?
It is a photo of your teeth that is sent directly to a computer instead of printed on film. They can be viewed on a screen, emailed, saved to a disc, or even printed out. It uses an electronic sensor rather than x-ray film. In a traditional x-ray, you bite down on a mouthpiece. In digital x-rays, a sensor is placed in your mouth that is connected to our computer by a thin wire.
Digital x-rays or digital radiographs can be done intraorally or extraorally.
Intraoral x-rays include bitewing x-rays. These particular x-rays are the best way to see decay, bone density changes and to examine the fit and condition of dental work including crowns and restorations. A periapical x-rays shows the entire tooth from crown to root tips. They are helpful for examining your root structure, bone loss and gum disease.
As far as extraoral x-rays go, panoramic is one the most common. This x-rays uses a machine that rotates around your entire head to show your mouth and teeth in one image. It provides the imagery you need to decide if a dental implants are viable or if you have impacted wisdom teeth or jaw issues. It also picks up any tumors or cysts you might have. Multi-slice computed tomography, also known as MCT, shows just a slice of your mouth while receding all the others so we can examine the area with great detail. If orthondontia might be in your future, a cephalometric x-ray might be taken to look at your entire head and jaw. There is also a cone beam computerized tomography x-ray that is most commonly taken in hospitals but sometimes used in dental offices. It helps us see facial bone issues and tumors.
Benefits of Digital X-Rays
- Digital x-rays use 90 percent less radiation that film x-rays.
- No wait time! Because the picture develops instantly and is projected onto a computer screen you don’t have to wait for old-fashioned film to develop.
- We get more precise images with digital x-rays. The images can also be magnified, enlarged or brightened to see each tooth closely.
- A single tooth can be singled out to examine closely in a digital x-ray.
- If your records need to be transferred to a specialist or your insurance company they can be easily emailed instead of having to copy them and mail them by hand.
- Better for the environment as there is a reduction in chemicals and waste associated with traditional x-rays.
How Often Do Our Patients Need X-Rays?
This answer varies depending on your age and dental situation. If you are a child or teenager, or at risk for cavities and decay, we might want to take x-rays more often in order to stay on top of any developing dental issues. Yearly, full mouth xrays are recommend and covered by most insurance plans. However, before any procedure like fillings, root canals, or crowns, a current x-ray of the specific tooth in question will be needed for the best care possible.
Are You Concerned About Radiation?
We know that many patients are concerned about minimizing radiation exposure (even though the radiation exposure in digital x-rays is very low), which is why we are conservative in our administration of them and you do have the option to decline x-rays. Though, this may limit the dental services we can provide for you. You should also be aware that many insurance companies will not pay a claim on major dental work without first authorizing the procedure – which typically requires an x-ray of the tooth in need of treatment.
If you’re worried about radiation, consider the following: eating 600 bananas will expose you to the same level of radiation that receiving one chest x-ray does. While you most likely will not be eating 600 bananas this year, it highlights the fact that while radiation is a scary word (and is in fact, very scary at significant levels) it is emitted by many things at very small levels. Plus, a typical bitewing x-ray emits 0.038 millisievert of radiation, which is half the radiation of a chest x-ray at 0.080 millisievert.
We will also cover you with a lead bib to protect your internal organs from radiation exposure. And if you are pregnant, x-rays can wait.
It is always best to minimize exposure, but to also realize that detecting serious oral conditions is also important for your health. Your mouth is the gateway to your body and dental problems that go unchecked can affect your overall health.