Without dental x-rays, any problem that isn't visible to the naked eye could go unnoticed and cause potentially serious dental issues, such as tooth decay. The dentist can detect some gum problems, but cannot see the inside of the gum itself or the bone in the teeth. X-rays consist of images taken with high-energy electromagnetic radiation, which soft, low-density tissues, such as skin and organs, cannot absorb. Did you know that not all x-rays at the dentist are the same? The x-rays that the dentist takes during the consultation may vary depending on the purpose of the visit.
There are two types of x-rays: therapeutic and diagnostic. In many dental offices, panoramic x-rays are taken using digital radiography, which provides the dentist with a complete overview of the teeth. Some dental offices may use multiple bite X-rays, where each bite will allow the dentist to see several of your teeth. Diagnostic x-rays are a little different and are typically required when planning a larger dental treatment.
If you are going to have an endodontic treatment, for example, your dentist can take a “periapical diagnostic X-ray”. This type of X-ray is specifically designed to capture a complete image of the entire tooth, from the top (crown) to the bottom (root). If you are going to undergo any type of dental procedure, such as a root canal, dental implant, or even a filling, in some cases, additional diagnostic x-rays may be needed to obtain images of the tooth and surrounding areas and plan treatment accordingly. In the past, dentists used to recommend annual x-rays.
However, today, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that healthy adults with no apparent major dental problems only need X-rays every 2 or 3 years or so. The ADA suggests that patients with recurrent tooth decay or other oral complications should have X-rays taken once or twice a year. Complete x-rays are used as part of preparing for many dental procedures. This includes extractions or dental planning.
A general dentist requires X-rays once a year to ensure that there is no bone loss, jaw malposition, or changes in the teeth. Often, it can be difficult to detect these abnormalities through a routine exam. X-rays show the general dentist the inside of the bone and under the teeth, which is normally not visible to the eye. Without annual x-rays, the general dentist may not be able to detect some of these abnormalities which could cause irreversible damage.
Nowadays, a new study by dental researchers at the University at Buffalo has shown that a type of X-ray that patients routinely receive - panoramic radiography - could be used selectively in some cases instead of as a routine diagnostic tool. Two dental experts evaluated the x-rays for bone injuries or other abnormal appearances that could indicate problems. For example, your dentist will be able to see areas between your teeth and under a filling using a dental x-ray. With a dental cleaning, an oral exam and an X-ray at Fairhope from Living Oaks Dental or at Dental Associates of Basking Ridge in Somerset County, you can take control of your dental health and ensure that you get the care you need to keep your gums and teeth healthy.