Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
Dental x-rays may reveal:
Abscesses or cysts.
Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
Decay between the teeth.
Poor tooth and root positions.
Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!
Are dental x-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources.
Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. We take precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation when taking dental x-rays. These precautions include using an x-ray blocking apron to protect the body and using phosphor imaging plates in place of traditional film that allows us to reduce the exposure time of each x-ray radiograph by 50% via the use of a digital, computer aided processing system.
How often should dental x-rays be taken?
For patients new to our practice, we require a recent, (within the past two years), full set of radiographs that consists of about 16-18 images. If these can be transferred from a prior dentist and are of adequate diagnostic value, this may serve as your radiographic baseline in our practice. If transfer of a recent set of images is not possible, the full mouth radiographs and examination will occur early in your tenure in our practice.
Much like a medical physical examination we periodically perform a full examination. At five year intervals we provide a full examination as noted above. Between the full examinations we provide a screening examination usually consisting of four radiographs of back teeth. This will occur during a cleaning appointment. In our practice therefore routine radiographs are taken every 2-3 years, alternating between a full mouth set and a screening set.
Occasionally a single radiograph is taken on an "as-needed" basis to aid in diagnosis of a specific complaint.