Dental x-rays are essential, preventative diagnostic tools that provide valuable information that can't be gathered visually during dental exams. Dentists use x-rays to safely and accurately detect cavities and hidden dental abnormalities in order to make accurate diagnoses and comprehensive treatment plans. Without x-rays, problem areas can go undetected and unresolved. Identifying and treating dental problems at an early stage saves our patients time, money, and unnecessary discomfort.
At Jefferson Family Dental, we use digital radiography, the latest technology used to take dental x-rays. Instead of using x-ray film, digital x-rays use an electronic sensor to capture and store images digitally on the computer. Additionally, instead of having to wait for the x-ray film to develop, digital images can be viewed instantly, saving our patients time. Digital x-rays can also be enlarged and enhanced on the computer, helping the dentist make accurate diagnoses. They also reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.
Dental x-rays detect:
Cavities (decay) between the teeth
Position of teeth, roots, and other anatomical figures
Abscesses and cysts
Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
Are dental x-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Also, since digital x-rays are captured electronically instead of with film, there is no need to develop the images, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.
Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, dentists still limit the patient’s exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking x-rays that are necessary and using lead aprons to protect the body.
How often should dental x-rays be taken?
The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based upon the review of your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.
Different types of x-rays are also taken at different times. For new patient exams, four bitewing x-rays (showing the crowns of upper and lower teeth together) and two periapical x-rays (showing the entire tooth including the root) are typically taken. Additional bitewing x-rays are recommended once or twice a year during recall exams to detect any potential new problems. A full mouth series of x-rays is typically recommended every three to five years.
*Please note the people depicted in the photographs are models and not real patients.*