For some patients, dental x-rays (radiographs) seem like an unnecessary step during the preventative, recare dental visit, but this is an important step for dentists to be able to diagnose, treat decay and address other concerns.
Unfortunately, dentists do not have the superpower ability to see between your teeth or below your gums and bone. This is where x-rays come into play. For most patients, your dentist will recommend yearly bitewing x-rays. These x-rays are used to detect cavities while they are still small. This saves you money, time, and discomfort in the long-term. If you wait for something to hurt before getting x-rays, oftentimes it is too late and extra dental treatment will be needed.
Another common x-ray that is used in the dental field is the panoramic x-ray. This particular x-ray shows all of your teeth, jaw bone, and even your sinuses. It is needed to evaluate the position of wisdom teeth or to find abnormalities in the jaw bone such as cysts or tumors.
Some patients are concerned about the exposure to radiation with dental x-rays. Today, most dental offices have digital x-rays which use one-tenth the amount of radiation as the older film x-rays. The radiation from one digital dental x-ray is equal to the amount of radiation you get from eating a banana and 1000 times less than a chest x-ray. The exposure to radiation from your yearly dental x-rays is negligible.
Following your dentist’s recommendations for x-rays is a simple but an important step to ensure you are receiving comprehensive dental evaluation and care.
Mark Scallon, DDS