DENTAL X-RAY

WHAT IS A DENTAL X-RAY?

Dental x-rays take images of the teeth and the mouth. Like general x-rays, they are a form of electromagnetic radiation, similar to visible light. However, they are of higher energy and penetrate the body to form images on film. See x-rays for more detail…

WHAT HAPPENS DURING A DENTAL X-RAY?

Because the teeth and bone are hard tissues that are denser than cheeks and gums (soft tissues), they absorb most x-rays that pass through your mouth. Then, radiographs are generated, which is the film or digital sensor that x-rays strike. The radiographs allow your dentils to see hidden abnormalities (tooth decay, infections, gum disease signs, bone changes, and ligaments holding teeth in place).

There are four types of x-rays:

  • Bitewing (patients bite on a paper tab that shows the crown portions of the top and bottom teeth)
  • Periapical (shows one or two complete teeth from crown to root)
  • Palatal or Occlusal (x-rays that capture all the upper and lower teeth in one shot while the film rests on the biting surface of the teeth)
  • Panoramic
    • Has a special machine rotating around the head. This x-ray captures the entire jaw and teeth in one shot and is used to plan treatment for dental implants, to check for impacted wisdom teeth, and to detect jaw problems. However, unless there is an advanced and deep decay
  • In addition, many dentists use digital technology to take x-rays. This technology will take images through a computer and expose patients to less radiation.

WHAT SHOULD I DO TO PREPARE FOR A DENTAL X-RAY?

Notify your dentist if pregnant or suspecting pregnancy.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS? ARE THERE ANY AFTER EFFECTS?

X-ray examinations are beneficial in detecting disease of the teeth and surrounding tissues not easily seen by dentists. The exam may help discover:

  • small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings);
  • infections in the bone;
  • periodontal (gum) disease;
  • abscesses or cysts;
  • developmental abnormalities;
  • some types of tumors.
  • By finding and treating dental problems early on the stage, patients are able to save time, money, and possible unnecessary discomfort.

The only risk may be due to radiation exposure. However, radiation exposure from dental x-rays is low and every precaution is taken to ensure that it is low. To minimize exposure to the abdomen, a leaded apron is worn and should be used when taking any dental radiographs. This leaded thyroid collar protects the thyroid from radiation and is recommended for women of childbearing age and of pregnancy, and for children.  Additionally, dental x-rays do not need to be delayed if attempting pregnancy or breast feeding. It may be needed for urgent dental treatment prior to the birth of your baby. As untreated dental infections pose risks to the fetus, it is crucial for the mother and child receive dental treatment to maintain their health.

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