Dental Tips Blog


3 Reasons Your Dentist Needs to Take X-Rays

Posted in Digital X-Rays

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 cant 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



Annual Dental X-Rays are Important for Disease Prevention

Posted in Digital X-Rays

Many dental patients have excellent oral health, see their dentist twice a year for preventive visits, and continue to go years without any types of dental problems or tooth decay. After a while, some of these patients may ask, “why do I need to have x-rays taken?” In fact, some of those patients will go on to request that x-rays are not taken at all until they have some type of problem.

Taking dental x-rays on an annual basis is regarded to be a standard of care among dentists that are concerned with comprehensive patient care. By taking a full mouth series every few years, and a set of bitewing x-rays once each year, areas of concern can be identified when they are as small as possible. The radiographs also provide a baseline reading to judge anatomical changes such as alteration in bone height, or tumor formation.

Early diagnosis of decay or gum disease requires the use of x-rays, and allows dentists to keep treatment as minimally invasive as possible for their patients, protecting the healthy enamel still remaining in the tooth. In the end, this reduces the investment that the patient must make over the life of their smile. Unfortunately, simply waiting for symptoms to arise can allow decay to spread to multiple teeth, and even be deep enough to require more invasive treatments such as root canal therapy or even an extraction.

Your dentist has the best interest of your smile in mind. Annual x-rays can be one of the most important parts of your preventive oral care plan; don’t skip them!

Posted on behalf of Dr. Scott Merritt, BridgeMill Dentistry



Understanding What’s On Your Dental X-rays

Posted in Digital X-Rays

Looking at your dental x-rays can be like looking at a gigantic crossword puzzle. Each area on the film says something specific, but you have to know what goes in that space to understand the complete picture of what you’re looking at.

Radiographs are made up of combinations of black, white, and grey shades in-between. Strong, dense matter like bones, enamel, and fillings block x-ray beams from coming into contact with the radiographic film, so these areas appear blank (or white) on the image. Areas that are less dense, like open spaces, nasal sinuses, or cavities, appear darker grey or black. A healthy tooth will include all of these shades, because it has both very dense areas (the enamel of the crown), as well as areas of nerve tissue that do not block the rays (such as the nerve canal.)

Your dentist will look at these shades, to determine if normal areas of bone or enamel are in the places they are supposed to be. For instance, bone loss, tumors, infections, and cavities are all things that your dentist can identify simply by looking at an x-ray. Most of these conditions are not visible upon a clinical examination, so it’s important that your dentist gets x-ray films as part of your annual care plan to identify any changes in your oral health.

Even if the area appears very small on the x-ray, it can potentially cause a lot of problems. Take cavities between the teeth for example, because they are surrounded by dense enamel, the entire cavity will not show up on the x-ray, only about 75% of what is actually there. Identifying cavities while they are small helps to keep your treatment needs as minimally invasive as possible.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Scott Merritt, BridgeMill Dentistry


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