Dental Tips Blog


How Often Should X-Rays Be Taken?

Sometimes it can seem a bit confusing as to whether or not you’re due for dental x-rays. Didn’t you just have one taken at the last appointment? What about that full set they did 5 years ago? Why won’t the large x-ray show what is on the tooth that is hurting you? All of this may seem to not make much sense, and can leave dental patients puzzled about how often routine dental x-rays actually need to be taken.

Routine bitewing x-rays are typically taken once a year. For some patients, your dentist may feel that you are predisposed to a higher rate of dental disease and request that they are taken twice a year instead. These 4 radiographs show a detailed view of the bone levels between the teeth as well as the health of tooth enamel in areas that are prone to decay.

Periapical x-rays are typically taken only if there is a specific concern, or if you are having a complex procedure performed. This type of x-ray views the entire length of the root as well as the bone around it. Most periapical films are taken at the time of treatment or during an emergency exam.

Full Mouth X-Ray sets (FMX) are a combination of periapical and bitewing x-rays, totaling about 20 films throughout the entire mouth. These sets of x-rays are usually taken at the first adult appointment or once every 3-5 years for a comprehensive screening and examination of the oral anatomy.

Panoramic x-rays show the jawbones, wisdom teeth and other cranial structures such as the sinuses. Pano films are usually taken every 3-5 years, or for specific consultations regarding orthodontic needs, wisdom tooth development, and dental implant therapy.

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