In This Article
What Is A Dental X-Ray?
Dental x-rays, also known as dental radiographs, are images of your teeth that dentists use to identify potential oral health problems. Dentists use digital x-rays with low levels of radiation to visualize the internal structures of your teeth and gums, based on which they can diagnose dental decay, cavities, and other dental problems. Dental x rays are the most common tools used by dentists for the diagnosis of dental problems.
How Do Dental X-Rays Work?
Dental radiography might sound complex, but it’s fairly simple. The dental x-ray sends x-rays through the mouth. The teeth, bones, and hard tissues absorb more of the rays, so they appear lighter on the final radiography. Meanwhile, the gums and soft tissues absorb less of the rays, so they appear darker on the radiography. The infected, abscessed, and decayed regions are usually softer, and they don’t absorb as much of the rays, so they appear darker. Dentists study the light and dark contrasts in dental x rays to diagnose health problems.
How Often Should You Get Dental X-Rays?
The frequency of dental x-rays depends entirely on your oral health and requirements. If you have a high risk of dental decay, bacterial infections, or other health problems, your dentist may recommend dental x rays every 6 to 12 months. Frequent dental x rays will allow the dentist to identify potential dental health problems at the earliest stage before they progress further. Most oral health problems are chronic, so it’s important to identify and treat them at the earliest stage possible. The longer you delay the treatment, the worse the condition becomes.
Children and teenagers generally need dental x rays more frequently than adults because their teeth aren’t completely developed, so there’s a higher risk of dental problems. Dentists also take dental x rays before major procedures, such as root canal tooth x-rays and periodontal disease x-rays. You may also need dental x rays when you switch over to a new dental professional or if your dentist identifies a potential sign of dental infection. People with healthy teeth and a low risk of infections and dental decay can get dental x rays every other year, but you must follow your dentist’s recommendations above all else.
What Can Dental X-Rays Identify?
Dental x-rays provide contrasting light and dark images of the insides of your mouth. The teeth and bone look bright white, and the soft tissues and infected areas look gray or black. The images taken from dental radiographs provide dentists with the information they need to curate a personalized treatment plan. Dentists can review the x-rays to identify possible abscesses, infections, cavities, or impacted teeth. While different types of dental restorations look different in dental x rays, the dentist can also assess the general health and quality of the restoration.
Are Dental X-Rays Really Necessary?
Dental x-rays are necessary because they provide important diagnostic information to dentists. While dentists can determine possible cavities and infections from an external inspection of your teeth, dental x rays are necessary to identify deeper issues. In most cases, infections and cavities only become externally visible when they spread considerably, at which point stopping their progress becomes harder. But dental x rays reveal potential infections and cavities at the earliest stage possible when they’re easily treated. Undergoing dental x rays can save considerable time, energy, and expenses in more complex treatments down the line.
Are Digital Teeth X-Rays Safe?
Some patients worry that dental x-ray radiation may cause adverse health problems in the long run. While dental x rays equipment does generate radiation, the amount of exposure is fairly limited and tolerable. Studies have shown that dental radiography is completely safe for everyone in most situations. The dental x-ray radiation level is no different from the level of radiation you receive from everyday activities, like watching TV or using smoke detectors. As such, digital teeth x-rays are completely safe for you — the potential health impacts of infections, abscesses, and decay are far more pressing.
Can You Get Dental X-Rays When Pregnant?
Unless absolutely necessary, pregnant women are generally asked to avoid dental x rays, even though the radiation level in dental x-rays should be safe for everyone. But since pregnant women also have a higher risk of periodontitis, you shouldn’t avoid periodontal dental x rays if you notice the signs and symptoms of gum disease, such as redness or bleeding gums. Pregnant women undergoing dental x-rays are generally asked to wear lead thyroid collars and aprons to protect vulnerable areas from radiation. Breastfeeding and nursing women can proceed with dental x rays without any concern or problems.
What Are The Types Of Dental X-Rays?
- Bitewing Dental X-Rays: You bite down on a piece of paper. The dentist checks for cavities between the teeth and determines if your crowns match up.
- Occlusal Dental X-Rays: You close your jaw, and the dentist identifies abnormalities in the floor of your mouth or in how your upper and lower teeth match.
- Panoramic Dental X-Rays: The dental x-ray equipment rotates around your head to capture a complete image of your mouth. It allows optional dental implant planning.
- Periapical Dental X-Rays: The dentist uses this dental x rays technique to focus comprehensively on two teeth from root to crown.
Schedule Your Dental Radiology In Houston
URBN Dental is a state-of-the-art dental clinic specializing in digital dental x-rays that use even less radiation than traditional dental x-rays. We always diagnose and treat potential dental problems at the earliest stage possible to prevent further complications. You can find our dental clinic at 3201 Allen Pkwy, Houston, a short drive from the Museum District, West University Place, Upper Kirby, or River Oaks in Houston. Please schedule an appointment for your dental x rays in Houston.