The benefits of X-rays are well known: They help dentists diagnose common problems, such as cavities, gum disease and some types of infections. Radiographs allow dentists to see inside a tooth and beneath the gums to assess the health of the bone and supporting tissues that hold teeth in place.
There are a number of X-rays a dental professional can order. The type of X-ray needed will depend greatly on the type of care the patient needs to receive.
Here are some of the most common types of X-rays performed:
Provides a view of the entire tooth, from the crown to the bone that helps to support the tooth.
Offers a visual of both the lower and upper posterior teeth. This type of X-ray shows the dentist how these teeth touch one another (or occlude) and helps to determine if decay is present between back teeth.
Shows a view of the teeth, jaws, nasal area, sinuses and the joints of the jaw, and is usually taken when a patient may need orthodontic treatment or implant placement.
Offers a clear view of the floor of the mouth to show the bite of the upper or lower jaw. This kind of X-ray highlights children’s tooth development to show the primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth.
These X-rays are typically performed in the office of a dentist or dental specialist. First, a dental professional will cover you with a heavy lead apron to protect your body from the radiation. Next, the dental professional will insert a small apparatus, made of plastic, into your mouth and ask you to bite down on it - this holds the X-ray film in place. The technician will then proceed to take an X-ray picture of the targeted area. This process is pain-free and will be repeated until images have been obtained for your entire mouth. The use of digital X-rays provides significantly less radiation to the dental patient and is convenient and time saving for the dental practice.
Dental X-rays are very safe and expose you or your child to a minimal amount of radiation. When all standard safety precautions are taken, today's X-ray equipment is able to eliminate unnecessary radiation and allows the dentist to focus the X-ray beam on a specific part of the mouth. High-speed film enables the dentist to reduce the amount of radiation the patient receives. A lead body apron covers the body from the neck to the knees and protects the body from stray radiation.