Dental X-Rays: What You Need to Know
Dental X-rays, also known as dental radiographs, are images of your teeth and jaws. dentist las vegas use X-rays to examine structures they can’t see during a routine checkup, like your jawbone, nerves, sinuses, and teeth roots.
Types of dental X-rays
There are two main types of dental X-rays: intraoral and extraoral.
- Intraoral X-rays are taken with the X-ray film inside your mouth. They are the most common type of dental X-ray and can be used to diagnose a variety of problems, including cavities, gum disease, and impacted teeth.
- Extraoral X-rays are taken with the X-ray film outside your mouth. They are used to get a wider view of your teeth and jaws and can be helpful in diagnosing problems such as jawbone fractures, tumors, and cysts.
Common dental X-rays
Here are some of the most common types of dental X-rays:
- Bitewing X-rays: These X-rays show the crowns of your upper and lower teeth on one side of your mouth. They are used to detect cavities between teeth.
- Periapical X-rays: These X-rays show one or two teeth from the crown to the root. They are used to diagnose problems with individual teeth, such as cavities, abscesses, and impacted teeth.
- Panoramic X-rays: These X-rays show all of your teeth and jaws on one film. They are used to get a general overview of your oral health and can be helpful in diagnosing problems such as impacted teeth, jawbone fractures, and tumors.
- Cephalometric X-rays: These X-rays show the side of your head from your skull to your chin. They are used by orthodontists to plan orthodontic treatment.
- Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans: CBCT scans are 3D X-rays that provide a more detailed view of your teeth and jaws. They are used to diagnose and plan treatment for a variety of dental problems, such as impacted teeth, jawbone fractures, and dental implants.
Why dentists recommend dental X-rays
Dentists recommend dental X-rays for a variety of reasons:
- To detect cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems that cannot be seen with a visual exam alone.
- To plan and monitor dental treatment, such as fillings, crowns, and root canals.
- To diagnose and treat jawbone fractures, tumors, and cysts.
- To evaluate the growth and development of teeth in children and adolescents.
- To track the progress of orthodontic treatment.
How often should I get dental X-rays?
The frequency of dental X-rays depends on your individual risk factors for dental problems. For most adults, dentists recommend bitewing X-rays once a year and periapical X-rays every two to three years. Panoramic X-rays may be recommended every five to seven years, and cephalometric X-rays may be recommended for children and adolescents who are undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Are dental X-rays safe?
Dental X-rays use very low levels of radiation. The amount of radiation exposure from a dental X-ray is much less than the amount of radiation exposure you receive from a routine chest X-ray.
There is a very small risk of cancer from dental X-rays, but the benefits of dental X-rays far outweigh the risks. Dentists take steps to minimize radiation exposure during dental X-rays, such as using lead aprons and thyroid collars to protect your body from radiation.
What to expect during a dental X-ray
Dental X-rays are taken quickly and easily. You will sit in a dental chair and a lead apron will be placed over your chest and abdomen to protect your vital organs from radiation. A thyroid collar may also be placed around your neck to protect your thyroid gland.
The X-ray machine will be positioned next to your head and the dental technician will place the X-ray film or sensor in your mouth. You will need to hold still for a few seconds while the X-ray is taken.
After the X-ray is taken, the dental technician will remove the film or sensor and develop the X-ray. Your dentist will then review the X-rays and discuss any findings with you.
If you have any questions or concerns about dental X-rays, be sure to talk to your dentist.