Dental X-rays are a long-standing modern diagnostic tool in dentistry. They provide important insights into your oral health, which your dentist cannot see with the naked eye during a visit. But if you’ve been to the dentist lately and they said, “Ok, this time we need an X-ray,” you may wonder if it’s necessary. But dental X-rays are an essential line of defense in your overall oral health journey for a few clear reasons.
What is a Dental X-ray?
Dental X-rays (radiographs) are similar to a “normal X-ray” of other body parts like an elbow. They image teeth, jaw bones, and surrounding tissues. They also use a low amount of radiation to capture detailed images. These provide dentists and hygienists with detailed information on the patient’s oral health. There are a few different types, including periapical, panoramic, bitewing, and CBCT (cone beam computed tomography) scans, each serving a specific purpose.
Why are Dental X-rays so Important?
When you visit your dentist, they can only see things on the surface. You open your mouth and they look around with their tools. They touch various teeth and tissue, examining the external structure and gum and tongue coloring. But this only looks at what is visible, not what is happening under the surface. It’s like going to a car mechanic with an issue, sure the mechanic may see some cosmetic problems with the vehicle, but they won’t know what’s wrong with the engine without looking under the hood. It’s a simple analogy, but the same applies to dental X-rays.
There are a lot of reasons dental practices use them.
- Early detection of dental problems: Dental X-rays can reveal gum disease, cavities, abnormalities, and other infections in the teeth and jaws that your dentist cannot see without X-ray technology. This allows a treatment plan to be implemented before minor problems become severe oral concerns.
- Evaluation of tooth development: for children or young adults with developing teeth, or indeed when an adult has a tooth extraction, dentists use X-rays to monitor the development of growing teeth and refilling bone following extraction in adults. This is important because it will show the dentist if the developing teeth are all there and coming in straight or not. For example, it can mean a faster uptake of invisible braces if needed.
- Monitoring changes in oral health: in adults, regular X-rays are essential to monitor any changes that occur with age and wear and tear. Also, suppose a patient has had a crown or is considering a dental implant. In that case, the dentist can monitor the position of the replacement tooth and assess bone density in those looking for dental implant surgery.
- Assessing gum disease and tooth decay internally: Bitewing X-rays are used to monitor tooth decay between teeth and evaluate the health of gum tissue under the surface. This helps dentists monitor the decay level and create a treatment plan.
- Planning orthodontic treatment and procedures: CBCT scans are the most commonly used for planning orthodontic procedures like braces or Invisalign and allow for planning a tooth alignment treatment plan.
So, How Often Do I Need Dental X-Rays?
Most normal patients with good oral health and regular visits should have a dental X-ray once a year. At most once every two years. For young patients and children with developing teeth or undergoing orthodontic procedures every six months to 12 months. There are also emergencies. Your dentist may do an x-ray to see what trauma has occurred to the teeth, gums, and jaws.
The point is that dental X-rays are not some way for your dentist to increase your bill. They serve an integral purpose in maintaining oral health and keeping up with a treatment plan for your dental needs. So, don’t scoff when your dentist says you’re due for an X-ray because they are only looking out for you.
Get a Dental X-ray Coney Island NY, right here at ConeyIslandDental.com and over 40 years of local expertise. We are your neighbors.