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The Importance of Regular Dental X-Rays

The invention of the X-ray has perhaps been the biggest advancement in modern dental care and overall oral health.  Dental X-rays offer dentists deep diagnostic insight and provides them with critical data to accurately assess and treat oral health issues.

What is an X-Ray Exactly?

An X-ray is a form of energy similar to radio waves or micro waves.  Also known as radiographs, X-rays pass through soft tissues and is absorbed by dense tissue such a bone and teeth.  There are two main categories of X-ray called extraoral and intraoral.  An intraoral X-ray is taken inside of the mouth while the extraoral X-ray is performed outside of the mouth. 

Why are X-rays Performed?

A visual exam by your dentist can’t tell them everything they need to know and X-rays can help them fill in the gaps with a more complete picture.  They can help dentists detect problems before symptoms arise and allow them to put you on an early treatment plan or provide preventative dentistry treatments.  By catching and addressing these problems early on, you can save time, money and prevent future discomfort. 

What can Dental X-rays Detect?

Dental X-rays can detect and prevent a number of common and lesser known issues for patients including:

  • Tooth Decay – In a dental X-ray, areas of decay will show up as dark spots.  X-rays are very helpful to dentists by exposing difficult to see decay hidden between teeth.
  • Cracked Teeth or Fillings – Hairline cracks are most times invisible to the naked eye but become much more visible through an X-ray.  This provides great insight into detecting that a crown will be needed to save a tooth.
  • Periodontal Disease – Infection around the tooth can often occur below the gum line, known as periodontal disease.  X-ray imaging can help dentists discover the extent of the periodontal disease and create a treatment plan to move forward.
  • Cancer – Bone and other oral cancers can be identified in the early stages through X-rays, improving treatment options and outcomes.
  • Bone Loss – In advanced cases of periodontal disease, X-rays can help diagnose the problem areas and to what extent bone loss has occurred.
  • Infection – Bacterial infections are another type of dental health issue that is uncovered through X-rays.  They can also be useful in detecting the possibility of a failed root canal.
  • Unerupted Teeth – As children grow older, X-Rays can confirm the position of the child’s permanent teeth and discover blockages that would hinder eruption.
  • Impacted Teeth – When teeth become impacted, one tooth blocking the other from erupting, an X-ray can provide insight into where the impact has occurred and help formulate a treatment plan.

As you can see, X-rays provide plenty of valuable information to your dentist.  If it has been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, a full series of X-rays is your first step to improving your dental health.  As you continue with regular visits, less X-rays are usually needed.  X-rays are completely safe and the machines that take the X-ray are designed to emit minimal radiation.

If it has been a while since your last dental X-ray, fill out the form on this page or call our office today to set up your visit and get back on the road to a healthy, happy mouth.