Monday, June 19, 2017

Are Dental X-rays Really Necessary?

Like a teeth cleaning or annual checkup, x-rays are a vital element of preventative dental services. X-rays enable a dentist to see inside teeth and beneath the gums to diagnose cavities, gum disease, and some types of infection. X-rays can also prevent big problems through early detection. As for radiation, patients can rest assured that dental x-rays are safe.

X-rays at Work
A doctor showing dental x-ray to a patient

Dental x-rays can expose dental decay, dental abscess, and tumors or cysts. They can reveal impacted or extra teeth, while also determining the condition of fillings, bridges, crowns, and root canals. Also, they can show any bone loss from periodontal disease, identify plaque and tartar build-up, and determine if sufficient bone exists for dental implants. Essentially, they are the first step for a dentist to get a comprehensive look at the overall mouth health of a patient.

X-rays and Children's Teeth

X-rays play a major role in pediatric dental services, guiding the development of a child's teeth and mouth. In addition to locating decay, they can determine whether the incoming permanent teeth will fit and align properly. X-rays can also track the development of a child's wisdom teeth and identify those impacted or prevented from emerging by gum tissue.

Frequency of X-rays

How often teeth should be x-rayed depends on their current condition and the patient's oral and medical history. Typically, patients require x-rays only once per year. New patients should always expect the dentist to order x-rays to diagnose any current problems and establish a baseline for future developments.

Radiation From X-rays

Dental x-rays only expose a patient to low levels of radiation. In fact, new digital x-rays reduce radiation by as much as 80 percent. While x-rays should only be used when necessary, the exposure and radiation level is safe, and x-rays are an essential element of clinical diagnosis.

Dental x-rays are the foundation of which dental and gum problems are diagnosed or verified, procedures are planned and performed, and oral baselines are established for future dental services. X-rays should not be avoided for fear of radiation exposure.