Dental X-rays help dentists see things they cannot through normal visual examination. There are 2 types of dental X-rays available: standard X-rays and digital radiography. Here’s what you need to know about dental X-rays and your dental health.
First of All, Are Dental X-Rays Safe?Many people have concerns over the radiation they’re exposed to during X-rays. Fortunately, dental X-rays expose you to only a very small dose of radiation, and an even smaller amount if the dentist uses digital X-rays. The dental hygienist will provide you with a protective apron or covering to guard the rest of your body. If you are concerned about the X-rays, talk to the dentist about your options.
How Dental X-Rays HelpThere are many different things an X-ray shows dentists, including:
- Hidden dental structures, like wisdom teeth
- Any bone loss (that cannot be seen during the visual exam)
- Tooth misalignment
- Any signs of infection
- Damage to teeth
- Growth and development
Types of Dental X-RaysDental X-rays are divided into two categories: intraoral X-rays (where the film is inside the mouth) and extraoral X-rays (where the film is outside the mouth). Intraoral X-rays are the most common dental X-rays used. They provide a high level of detail, generally allowing dentists to examine your teeth for any decay. These include:
- Periapical – Provides a picture of the entire tooth, from the jaw bone to the crown; this type examines only one or two teeth at a time and is used to evaluate the bone and root
- Bite-Wing – Shows how teeth touch one another and reveals if decay is present in between back teeth; this is used to examine your bite and check for decay
- Occlusal – Shows the bite of the upper or lower jaw; this is used for examining children’s baby and permanent teeth