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Why Are Dental X-rays Important?

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By Author: James Franklin
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Dental x-rays are images of the teeth that dentist use to evaluate oral health. Used with low radiation levels, these x-rays capture images of the interior of the gums and teeth. They help the dentist identify problems like tooth decay, impacted teeth and cavities. Dental x-rays are not as complex as they seem; in fact, they are common tools and are just as important as regular teeth cleanings.

Importance of Dental X-Rays

Dental x-rays are usually done every year, and can happen more often if the dentist is tracking the progress of a dental treatment of problem. Other factors that can affect how often a person gets dental x-rays include age, current oral health, history of tooth decay or gum disease, and presence of any oral disease symptoms. New patients usually get dental x-rays so the dentist can have a clear idea of their current dental health.

Children might need to get dental x-rays more often compared to adults because dentists might have to monitor the growth of their adult teeth. By doing so, dentists can determine if the ...
... any baby teeth will have to be extracted to prevent any complications, like when adult teeth grows behind the baby teeth.

Types of Dental X-Rays

There are a few kinds of dental x-rays, with each one recording different views of the mouth. One type is called extraoral x-rays that are used when the dentist suspects problems in areas outside the teeth and gums, like the jaw. The second and most common type are intraoral x-rays, which include the following.

• Bitechewing. In this technique, the patient bites down a piece of paper to see how well the crowns of the teeth match up. This is usually used to check for cavities between teeth.
• Occlusal. This x-ray is done with the jaw closed to see how the bottom and upper teeth line up. It also detects anatomical abnormalities with the palate or floor of the mouth.
• Panoramic. To get this type of image, the machine rotates around head. This technique is used to check wisdom teeth, investigate jaw problems, and plan for implanted oral devices.
• Periapical. This x-ray technique focuses on two complete teeth from the crown to the root.

How to Get Dental X-Rays

There are no special preparations when getting dental x-rays. It only requires tooth brushing before the appointment to create a more hygienic environment for the dentist working in the mouth. X-rays are mostly done after professional cleanings. At the dental clinic, the patient will sit on a chair and a lead vest is placed across the lap and chest. The x-ray machine is them positioned to record images of the mouth.

The dentist or hygienist will guide the patient through every step of the x-ray process. They usually step outside the room for a while as the images are being taken. During this time, it is important for the patient to hold still as these pictures are recorded. When film holders or spaces are used in the mouth, they will be adjusted and moved to get the proper images.

When the images are ready, the dentist will review them to check for abnormalities. If there are any problems, like tooth decay or cavities, they will then talk to the patient about treatment options. But if there are none, then it is a job well done!

Just like regular brushing and flossing, regular dental x-rays is an important part of a person’s overall oral health. Depending on the age, current health and insurance coverage, these x-rays can be done once every one or two years. It is important for patients to commit to their appointments and see their dentist immediately if they experience any pain or changes in their mouth.

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