Understanding Dental X-Rays

Dental X-rays are an essential part of any oral care plan. They are quite common - anyone who has ever visited a dental professional has probably had them taken at some point - and consequently, it is helpful to understand a little more about them.

The Dental X-Ray Process

These X-rays are typically performed in the dental surgery. First, a dental professional will cover you with a heavy lead apron to protect your body from the radiation. Next, the dental professional who is licensed to take dental x-rays will insert a small apparatus, made of plastic, into your mouth and ask you to bite down on it - this holds the X-ray film in place. Then an X-ray picture of the targeted area will be taken. This process is pain-free and will be repeated until images have been obtained for your entire mouth.

Why are These X-Rays Taken?

The main purpose of having an X-ray performed is for preventive dental care. This procedure can aid in highlighting a number of dental issues, including bone destruction, dental injuries and tooth decay. In addition to its preventive care purposes, an X-ray is also a helpful tool for planning a course of treatment for patients who are having restorative care, dental implants placed or other cosmetic care.

Common Types of X-Rays Performed

There are a number of X-rays a dental professional can order. The type of X-ray needed will depend greatly on the type of care the patient needs to receive. Here are some of the most common types of X-rays performed.

  • Periapical: Provides a view of the entire tooth, from the crown to the bone that helps to support the tooth.
  • Bitewing: Offers a visual of both the lower and upper posterior teeth. This X-ray can also assist in showing the dentist how these teeth touch one another and if there is any dental decay between the teeth.
  • Panoramic: Shows a view of the teeth, jaws, nasal area, sinuses and jaw joints and is taken when a patient may need orthodontic treatment, to assess wisdom or other impacted teeth, or for general screening purposes.
  • Occlusal: Offers a clear view of the mouth from a horizontal perspective to assist, for example, in finding any extra teeth or teeth that have not yet broken through the gum line.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

More Articles You May Like

X-RAYS

X-rays, also known as radiographs, are an essential part of any dental care treatment plan. They are diagnostic, but they can also be preventative, by helping a dental practitioner diagnose potential oral care issues in a patient’s mouth before they become a major problem. An x-ray is a type of energy that passes through soft tissues and is absorbed by dense tissue. Teeth and bone are very dense, so they absorb X-rays, while X-rays pass more easily through gums and cheeks.

X-rays are divided into two main categories, intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral is an X-ray where the film is located inside the mouth. An extraoral X-ray is taken outside of the mouth.

Intraoral X-rays are the most common type of radiograph taken in dentistry. They give a high level of detail of the tooth, bone and supporting tissues of the mouth. These X-rays allow dentists to:

  • Find cavities

  • Look at the tooth roots

  • Check the health of the bony area around the tooth

  • Determine if periodontal disease is an oral care issue

  • See the status of developing teeth

  • Otherwise, monitor good tooth health through prevention