Why X-Rays are Vital in Your Patient’s Dental Care

Why do we go to the dentist? We go either to detect problems before they grow into serious concerns or to take care of an issue that has already developed. Now, not everything is visible to the naked eye. A visual examination cannot tell dentists everything they need to know to provide the best dental care to their patients. Dentists use dental X-rays to diagnose and treat dental problems before they become more serious. X-rays can detect cavities, oral infections, gum disease, and some types of tumors.

Dental X-rays are taken only when necessary for diagnosis and treatment, and their frequency depends on the patient’s age, signs of dental problems, and risk of oral disease. Let’s take a look at why X-rays are so vital for patient dental care.

What are Dental X-rays?

Dental X-rays or radiographs are images of your teeth required for your oral health evaluation. Pictures are taken of the interior of your oral cavity by using low levels of radiation. Radiographs are standard tools and are used as part of a routine dental examination, even though they may seem complicated.

Types of Dental X-rays

For recording slightly different views of your mouth, you can use various kinds of dental X-rays, such as:

  • Occlusal. It captures all your teeth in one shot when your jaw is closed. The shot shows how your upper and bottom teeth line up and whether there are any abnormalities with the palate or floor of the mouth.
  • Bitewing. To see how the crowns of your teeth match up, the bitewing X-ray includes biting on a unique piece of paper. Used for checking for interdental cavities.
  • Periapical. The technique focuses on two complete teeth (from root to crown).
  • Panoramic. This technique includes an X-ray machine rotating around the patient’s head to check for planning for implanted dental devices, reviewing wisdom teeth, or investigating jaw problems.

How Often are They Needed?

New patients are advised to take a panoramic image or full series of X-rays to assess the current, overall dental health state. When a patient continues their regular dental checkups, X-rays are needed only if the dentist suspects potential problems.

Are Dental X-rays Safe?

People often worry about the radiation exposure from radiography, but there’s no need for concern. Today’s technology has minimized radiation levels to minuscule amounts. Dentists use protective collars and aprons as safety precautions to protect their patients from radiation and make any exposure as short as possible by using the fastest film speeds or digital X-rays. One exception to the rule is pregnancy, and women who are pregnant should avoid all types of X-rays.

There is no special preparation for dental X-rays (except for brushing your teeth before the appointment.) After the dentist takes an X-ray shot, he reviews them and checks for any abnormalities. If any problems are found, the treatment options are discussed with the patient.

As with flossing and brushing, dental X-rays are vital in dental care. But even if they’re an integral part of overall oral health, it doesn’t mean that it should be performed during every routine checkup. They should be done every 1-2 years, depending on health, age, and insurance coverage.

For future RDAs, the X-ray California Radiation Health & Safety License is mandatory for all applicants to receive their RDA license. Applicants who sign up for a course at Dental Specialties Institute, Inc. will get their X-ray certification training that covers multiple exposure techniques, classroom and clinical training of X-ray safety, film exposure, bisecting, endodontic, and parallel techniques, processing, and critiquing of dental X-ray films. Feel free to contact Dental Specialties Institute, Inc. for more information.