If you’re like the majority of dental patients, you have asked (or thought of asking) your dentist why you need to have dental x-rays taken so “frequently.” Although it may seem like it’s literally every dental visit, it’s more like once a year that your dentist has these films taken, and for a good reason. Your dentist uses them as a key diagnostic tool when screening for disease and diagnosing dental problems. Depending on the type of x-ray taken, it may be taken more or less frequently.
X-rays show your dentist if there is decay between the teeth.
Even the most thorough dental exam won’t be able to spot tooth decay that forms between teeth or under an existing filling. X-rays capture images of these areas, showing the dentist when the earliest forms of decay are starting, allowing treatment to be less invasive.
X-rays screen for abnormalities and disease in the bone.
Periodontal disease, bone loss, and osteonecrosis need to be identified as early on as possible, preventing complications such as tooth loss. Only x-rays can show the quantity and levels of bone in the mouth.
There are some things that just can’t be seen during a clinical exam.
Whether it’s a missing tooth, impacted tooth, sinus complication or a disorder of the TMJ, your dentist sometimes needs to see “through” and deeper into the anatomy of your mouth, head, and neck. In fact, many newer forms of digital x-ray machines now also serve to function as 3-D CT scans!
Thanks to digital radiography, the radiation levels on dental x-rays went from very low to even lower levels of radiation. In fact, you get more radiation from being out in the sun for a few hours than you do from a set of dental x-rays. The convenience and safety of x-rays is something that’s definitely not worth turning down at your next dental check-up.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Scott Merritt, BridgeMill Dentistry
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