Dental X-rays provide a view into the areas of your mouth that are not visible to the naked eye. They enable your dentist to see what’s happening beneath the surface, which allows for a proper assessment of your oral condition. While your teeth and gums may appear healthy, a dental X-ray can help identify hidden problems before they develop further.
Why X-rays are needed
Tooth decay can be sneaky- it doesn’t tend to show physical signs of its presence early on. This is especially true in the areas between your teeth that are already difficult to assess visually and are one of the most common areas where tooth decay develops. Dental X-rays can also detect other problems such as infection around the roots of the teeth or bone loss. Spotting these issues early means that your dentist can deal with the problem before it becomes more significant.
There are several different types of dental X-rays are your dentist will determine which is needed depending on the conditions for which you are being assessed. For example, the X-ray taken to evaluate for decay between the teeth is different from the one taken to assess your wisdom teeth.
What can dental X-rays detect?
• Areas of tooth decay that may not be visible in the mouth
• Problems with existing fillings, root canals, crowns, or bridges
• The presence and severity of gum disease
• The development of wisdom teeth and if there is a need for removal
• Dental abscesses, infections, cysts, and some types of tumors
• Tooth development issues such as the delayed eruption of teeth, malformed teeth, extra or missing teeth, impacted or mispositioned teeth
• Traumatic injuries such as tooth and bone fractures
• Proximity of teeth to essential structures such as nerves and sinuses
• Assist in the planning and preparation of tooth implants, braces, dentures, root canals, crowns, and bridges
How often should I have X-rays taken?
This is very much different for everyone. Your dentist at will determine whether or not an X-ray is needed based on your current dental condition, history, age, risk of disease, and presenting signs and symptoms.
Can I have my dental X-rays transferred?
Having your previous dental records, including any dental X-rays, forwarded to your current dental practice is always helpful. In some instances, your dentist may ask for copies of any previous X-rays. This can be done relatively quickly and will require you to sign a release of records form at your current practice. The X-rays will then be forwarded from your previous dentist to your current dentist.
Are X-rays dangerous?
Regardless of whether you are a child or an adult, you can have dental X-rays safely taken inside and outside of your mouth. Dental X-rays involve a shallow dose of radiation, comparable to the amount of radiation exposure you would receive on a short (1-2 hour) plane ride. Your dentist will carefully weigh up the need for the X-ray and the risk of undetected disease if the X-ray is not taken. This means that X-rays are safe during pregnancy and essential to managing any significant dental disease, infections, or trauma. It is, however, necessary to inform your dentist that you are pregnant, as they are generally kept to a minimum during this period.
Why does my dentist leave the room when taking an X-ray?
Nothing to worry about here- dentists take many X-rays all day long, so stepping outside the room limits their ongoing radiation exposure. If you have any further concerns about dental X-rays, be sure to speak to your local !