You’d be surprised by the number of people who come into the office and think that dental x-rays are an optional treatment, like adding fries with your burger. X-rays are an important part of a thorough dental examination. They can expose hidden dental decay, abscess, cysts or tumors; show impacted or extra teeth; and also help determine the condition of fillings, crowns, bridges and root canals. Dental x-rays can also reveal bone loss from periodontal (gum) disease, locate tartar buildup, find foreign bodies within the gum or bone, and see if there is enough bone for the placement of dental implants.
When a patient is new to the office a full set of x-rays is needed to be able to evaluate the condition of their mouth. Depending on how many teeth you have a full set of x-rays includes up to 18 single films. Every year or so, depending on each individual patient’s needs, check-up x-rays called bitewings are needed. Generally 2 or 4 of these bitewing x-rays are taken at that time to show the back teeth and view between them where decay can exist unseen to the naked eye.
We are very conscientious about minimizing the amount of radiation a patient receives at our office. While a full series of x-rays may seem like a lot 18 dental x-rays deliver 800 times less radiation than a chest x-ray, and 40 times less radiation than the background radiation in a typical day. The use of digital x-rays delivers even less radiation than film x-rays and we are excited to be able to offer this technology in our office. In addition, with digital x-rays the image is immediately available – no need to wait for film to be developed. An added plus with digital x-rays is that chemicals like fixer and developer are not used and there is no environmental waste from film packets and the lead backing they contain.
Dental x-rays are an important tool in the diagnosis and treatment of dental problems. They do not, however, replace the need for a visual examination of the head, neck, TMJ and oral cavity. It is only with a combination of both x-ray images and the visual examination that our patients can receive the best treatment. And the very best is what we want for all of our patients!