Your dentist sees a lot of things in your mouth that you might not be able to; for example, they can find spots that you accidentally missed while brushing or cavities that are still in their earliest stages. That said, there’s a limit to what even a professional can discover with a simple visual examination, which is why dental X-rays are essential. Read on to learn more about one of your dentist’s most valuable diagnostic tools.
Using an X-ray, your dentist can check between your teeth and the insides of each individual tooth for signs of decay. They’ll also be able to look at the roots and bone hidden beneath the gums as well.
This kind of examination is the best way to find cavities, cysts, abscesses, and other oral masses in places where they can’t be easily seen. Furthermore, X-rays can help identify wisdom teeth that have become impacted so that the dentist can recommend an extraction as soon as possible.
There’s more than one kind of X-ray, and each one can be used in a different way:
Bitewing X-ray: This is the most common kind of X-ray. As the name suggests, you bite down on the X-ray film so that it can take a picture of the mouth. It’s used mainly to look for cavities in the spaces between the teeth.
Periapical X-ray: If you have a toothache, a periapical X-ray can be used to specifically examine one or two teeth. If the tooth has been infected, an abscess might be found past the root.
Panoramic X-ray: A panoramic X-ray can be used to take a picture of all of your teeth at once, letting the dentist thoroughly check for oral health issues.
CT/Cone Beam Scan: This is a special kind of X-ray; it shows the entire mouth like a panoramic X-ray but in much more detail. It allows the dentist to check the jaw, skull, joints and facial nerves – all of which could play a role in your oral health.
While X-rays do expose patients to a small amount of radiation, it’ll be negligible as long as proper procedures are followed. Also, most practices nowadays take advantage of advanced technology and use digital X-rays, which reduce radiation exposure by about 80%; this also speeds up the process, as the pictures are developed right away without the need for a darkroom.
Many patients will only need to have dental X-rays taken every couple of years, but depending on your oral health, you could sometimes need one as often as every six months. If you can’t remember the last time you had an X-ray done, talk to your dentist whether one will be needed in the near future.
At Thrive Dental & Orthodontics in Frisco, Drs. Christine Coughlin, Nathan Coughlin and Maryam Fazal combine their expertise in cosmetic dentistry, orthodontia and general dentistry to offer patients a wide menu of dental services. With advanced technology such as digital X-rays and a advanced scanners, they can find and treat oral health problems before they become serious threats. To schedule an appointment, visit their website or call (972) 737-7860.
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