Dental x-rays, known as radiographs, are essential diagnostic tools for the prevention of serious dental diseases and complications. They provide the dentist with valuable information not available through a regular dental exam. Identifying such problems early saves you time, money, and necessary pain. Dental x-rays can reveal:
- Tooth abscesses or cysts
- Bone loss
- Tumors, both cancerous and non-cancerous
- Decay between teeth
- Developmental abnormalities
- Poor tooth and root positions
- Problems inside a tooth and below the gum line
Patients often wonder if dental x-rays are safe. While x-rays do use low-level radiation to capture images, the amount of radiation exposure a patient receives from a full mouth series of dental x-rays is equal to what a person normally receives in a single day from natural sources present in our everyday lives. With precautions in place, x-rays are perfectly safe.
Dental x-rays are not taken on every check-up visit. The dentist regularly reviews each patient’s unique situation and requests the x-rays only when necessary based on medical and dental history, regular screenings, age considerations, and risk for disease. A full mouth series is recommended for new patients and is generally good for three to five years. Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are generally recommended once or twice a year.