Dental x-rays are utilized by dentists in order to take a picture of the teeth and mouth. A form of electromagnetic radiation, x-rays are like a higher energy visible light able to go through the body in order to form an image on film. Dental x-rays are a beneficial diagnostic tool used to assist a dentist in determining disease and/or damage that is not visible during a regular dental exam. The frequency that a patient will receive dental x-rays will relate to their specific oral health, a risk of disease, their age, and any signs of oral disease.
Once the dentist has reviewed the patient’s dental history and conducts an oral examination, they will be able to determine whether or not dental x-rays are necessary. In addition, dentists will often administer dental x-rays in order to establish a baseline of oral health, helping to monitor future changes. New dental x-rays may be needed in order for the dentist to:
- Determine condition of gum health
- Detect new cavities
- Evaluate the development of teeth
Dental x-rays are safe; nevertheless, radiation exposure indicates potentially damaging effects at a minimal rate since the radiation levels are low. As such, dentists take every precaution possible using specific tools and techniques that are structured to reduce the body’s exposure to the radiation. In addition, the dentists take every measure to make sure that the radiation exposure is As Low As Reasonable Achievable (ALARA principle). The leaded apron is given to the patient to decrease exposure to the abdomen.
Types of Dental X-Rays
There are two core types of dental x-rays administered today: intraoral and extraoral x-rays. Intraoral x-rays mean that the film is inside of the mouth and extraoral x-rays are outside of the mouth. Intraoral x-rays are the most common form of x-rays given today. Providing comprehensive detail, intraoral x-rays give the dentist information regarding the health of the tooth root as well as the bone around the tooth, cavity presence, general health of jawbone and teeth, and the status of teeth that are developing.
Extraoral x-rays, on the other hand, are able to show teeth but primarily focus on the skull and jaw. These x-rays are used to identify issues such as TMJ disorder, impacted teeth, and examine the growth and development of the jaws relative to the teeth. These x-rays do not provide the detail that intraoral x-rays offer and are therefore not used to identify cavities or pinpointing damage or decay on specific teeth. Each of these types of dental x-rays has multiple types within them, all monitoring different aspects of the teeth.
The following are the types of intraoral x-rays:
- Periapical X-rays
- Bite-wing X-rays
- Occlusal X-rays
In addition, the following are the available types of extraoral x-rays:
- Panoramic X-rays
- Cephalometric projections
- Computed tomography
James Family Dentistry is available to discuss your oral health at any time. Please contact our Royal Palm Beach office for more information.