Why does my dentist need a dental X-Ray?January 7, 2021 1:29 pm
X-rays are a normal part of any dentist appointment – but, many of us don’t know much about what an X-ray is, or why it’s important. The fact is, an X-ray is essential to your
What is Dental X-Ray?
An X-ray is a radiation type that passes through the body, only being slowed down by denser parts such as your teeth and bones. That might sound alarming – but the doses of radiation involved are tiny, and are only used for less than a second. In fact, we all get exposed to sources of radiation in our everyday lives, from the world around us – it’s completely natural, and you even have radioactive materials in your body.
Compared to your normal exposure to other sources of ‘background radiation’ in the everyday world, the dose from a dental X-ray is the same as a few days’ worths. This means that the risk of cancer is very, very small too. In fact, the risk of developing malignancy from a periapical radiograph varies between 1 in 2 million to 1 in 20 million, and for a panoramic
radiograph the risk is between 0.21 and 1.9 per million.
Why are they needed?
Taking an X-ray creates a clever black, white, and grey image of your mouth, that your dentist can then use to check the condition of your teeth from the inside. An X-ray will show any decay, infection, or bone loss hiding under the outer enamel, inside the tooth, or at the tooth root. This is necessary because early tooth decay often doesn’t show from the outside of the tooth during a routine clinical dental examination, and you might not have any other symptoms yet.
The X-ray will also show the position of all your teeth, which can be helpful for spotting problems such as impacted wisdom teeth in the jaw, and for checking the conditions of things like fillings. It is also helpful in checking children’s adult teeth before they have fully emerged, in case there are any problems that should be dealt with early on.
So for early diagnosis and treatment of problems, the benefits of a dental X-ray far outweigh the risks!
What are the types of dental X-rays?
There are different types of X-rays. Intraoral X-rays inside the mouth show the condition of your teeth in some detail, so the dentist can check everything. Bite-wing X-rays show one section of the mouth and just the upper part of the tooth. These are helpful in checking fillings, crowns, or for any problems between teeth or in the supporting bone around the tooth.
Periapical X-rays show the crown of the tooth down to the roots and cover all the teeth in that section. These are good for checking root and bone structure in the whole section. Finally, an occlusal X-ray shows all the teeth in the entire jaw.
Extraoral X-rays are taken from the outside, and these are more commonly used to check the jaws or other bones on the face and head.
What happens at the dentist?
Taking an X-ray is quick and pain-free, and all you need to do is sit still in the dentist’s chair. You won’t see or feel anything. At Drs. Nicolas & Asp, the dentist will place a lead ‘bib’ over your chest to avoid unnecessary radiation exposure to your vital organs.
The X-ray machine is placed next to you, and you’ll hear a click. That’s it!
Your regular dentist at Drs. Nicolas & Asp might need to take an X-ray every six months, but probably less often than that unless you have a problem that needs investigating. They will only take an X-ray if they need to. The one exception of dental X-rays is pregnant women. In this situation, it’s advised not to have any X-rays at all.
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