Dental x-rays (Dental X-Rays Page) are also known as dental radiographs. Dental x-rays are a type of picture of the teeth and mouth. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation, just like visible light. They are of higher energy that can penetrate the body to form an image on film. Structures that are dense (such as silver fillings or metal restoration) will block most of the photons and will appear white on developed film. Structures containing air will be black on film. Teeth, tissue, and fluid will appear as shades of gray. There are two main types of dental X-rays: intraoral (Intraoral Wiki page) (meaning the X-ray film is inside the mouth) and extraoral (meaning the X-ray film is outside the mouth).
Dental X rays are very useful in helping your dentist discover any potential problem before they worsen. During your regular checkups dental x-rays allow your dentist to see inside your teeth, jaw bone and roots of your teeth.
Problems Detected by Dental X-Rays
Dental X-Rays allows your dentist to see problems not visible to the naked eye. For example, dental x-rays can reveal problems such as tumors, bone loss, abscesses or cysts, tooth decay (Understanding the Connection Between Sugar and Tooth Decay Page), poor root and tooth positioning, developmental problems, and much more. When these problems are detected early using dental radiographs, they can often be treated more effectively.
Dental X-Rays Safety Issues:
Dental x-rays are safe for patients. In fact, the amount of radiation present with a dental x-ray is much less than the amount a person is exposed to from the sun or from traveling in an air plane. In our office we use digital x-rays. In general the amount radiation exposure is about half the traditional x-rays. Dentists also take many precautions to keep patients safe during the dental x-ray procedure.
Generally, full mouth dental (Dental Cleaning & Regular Check-ups Page) x-rays are generally ordered when you visit a new dentist for the first time. After that, your dentist may wish to get further full mouth dental x-rays every three to five years. X-rays of the top and bottom teeth biting together are known as bite-wing x-rays and these are often taken every 6 to 18 months to help your dentist in diagnosing any potential problem.