During every routine checkup, your dental team cleans and carefully examines your teeth and gums. However, sometimes your dentist in Medford also must take X-rays to see beneath the surface of your smile. Have you ever wondered why dental X-rays are so important? Keep reading below to learn how X-ray technology works and how it contributes to your oral health.
How Do Dental X-Rays Work?
Dental X-rays are photos that capture the inside of your teeth and beneath your gums. They are produced by passing low levels of radiation through your mouth and jaw. Dense objects, just as teeth and bones, absorb the radiation and appear as light-colored areas on X-rays. Radiation passes through soft tissues such as gums and cheeks, which appear as dark areas on X-ray film.
What Are the Different Types of Dental X-Rays?
There are several types of dental X-rays that are utilized to record slightly different views of your mouth. The most common intraoral X-rays include:
- Bitewing: Commonly used to check for cavities between teeth
- Occlusal: Reveal how your upper and bottom teeth line up
- Panoramic: Capture all of your teeth in one shot
- Periapical: Useful for focusing on one or two complete teeth
What Issues Do Dental X-Rays Find?
Even if your teeth seem great when you look in the mirror, there could still be potential problems hidden beneath your gums or in between teeth. Dental X-rays can reveal all sorts of issues that are often invisible to the naked eye, such as:
- Decay beneath fillings
- Small areas of decay between teeth
- Cysts and other types of tumors
- Bone loss in the jaw due to gum disease
Dentists also use X-rays to show the position of teeth when considering what kind of braces, dentures, or dental implants are required.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
Traditional dental X-rays are considered safe for adults and children by the American Dental Association. While they do involve radiation, the exposure levels and associated risks are very low. In addition, your dentist may place a leaded apron over your chest and abdomen and/or a leaded collar around your neck to prevent any unnecessary radiation exposure.
These days, many dentists use new digital X-rays, which produce 80% less radiation than traditional X-ray technology.
How Often Do You Need Dental X-Rays?
How often you need X-rays of your teeth depends on various factors, including your oral health, your age, your risk for disease, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease. In general, people who do not have ongoing dental treatment may need to get an X-ray only once every couple of years. However, if you have recently been diagnosed with gum disease or tooth decay, your dentist may recommend new dental X-rays every six months. In addition, if you switch dentists or are visiting your dentist after several years away, they will likely take new X-rays to determine the present status of your oral health.
If you still have any questions or doubts about dental X-rays, do not hesitate to ask your dentist in Medford for more details.
About the Author
Dr. Anthony Giamberardino has delivered quality dental care to the Medford community for over 30 years. He uses digital X-rays at his state-of-the-art private practice to identify issues and create custom treatment plans. To learn more about dental X-ray technology, visit the Giamberardino Dental Care website or call (781) 396-3800.