Dental Tips Blog


Bitewing X-Rays: What do they tell us?

Posted in Digital X-Rays

For the majority of dental patients, bitewing x-rays are taken once a year during your routine dental check-up. Although bitewings are essential for diagnostic and treatment needs, most people find themselves wondering why these films are taken on a regular basis. Here are some important things you should know about why your dentist needs to take the 4 to 7 films once a year:

Bitewings show the level of bone around your teeth.

Our bone levels determine whether or not our teeth will last an entire lifetime. Bone loss caused by gum disease can normally be halted if the right treatment is implemented in time. 

Bitewings indicate where decay is beginning to form between the teeth.

A visual exam alone is not enough to check for cavities between your teeth. Your dentist needs to see these areas on an x-ray to determine if early signs of cavities are present. The earlier the decay is found, the less invasive treatment (and more affordable) your treatment needs become. In fact, the earliest forms of cavities may be able to be treated without a filling! 

Bitewings reveal large areas of calculus (tartar) for your hygienist.

Large deposits of calculus can cause gum disease as well as bone loss around the teeth. Although most of this is felt through instrumentation, being able to visualize buildup on x-ray films can increase the thoroughness of your cleaning. 

Sometimes bitewings are used to monitor eruption patterns.

In younger children, bitewings reveal which of the back teeth are beginning to exfoliate (fall out) and be replaced by permanent ones. They can also show when adult teeth are missing.

Posted on behalf of Dr. David Janash, Park South Dentistry


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