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How Are X-Rays Used?

X-ray images are among the most valuable tools a dentist has for keeping your mouth and teeth healthy. They are also called dental radiographs.

For adults, dental X-rays are used to:

  • Look for areas of decay that the dentist may not be able to see just by looking, such as decay between teeth
  • Look for decay under a filling
  • Look for cracks or other damage in a filling
  • Alert the dentist to possible bone loss from periodontal (gum) disease
  • Show problems in the root of a tooth, such as infection or death of the nerve
  • Help your dentist plan, prepare and place tooth implants, braces, dentures or other dental work
  • Look for other problems, such as cysts, cancer or changes caused by diseases of the body

For children and teens, X-rays are used to find decay and damage to fillings, and to monitor tooth growth and development. They are also used to:

  • Check on whether permanent teeth are developing and coming in properly
  • See if any teeth are impacted (unable to come through the gums)
  • Help the dentist plan, prepare and place braces

Often, catching a small problem in tooth development early can prevent major problems later on.

More About X-Rays

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