Having a dental X-ray is essential at a dental checkup to find decay and other teeth issues. Managing and diagnosing different conditions often happens with an X-ray. The dentist can use the X-ray if it is hard to detect the problems with a simple visual exam. The X-ray can take images of the jaw, tooth root, and other structures. That way, the dentist can find a range of issues.
The number of times a patient needs to have an X-ray depends on oral health and the current condition. The dentist might recommend one during a dental checkup for new patients. That provides a baseline to check new issues against. Patients may also need to get X-rays every two years or so.
There are several kinds of X-rays that patients might have. Each one has a different purpose and these record various areas in the mouth. For instance, a bitewing X-ray is for looking for cavities between the patient’s teeth. The patient might bite on the piece of plastic so the dentist can see if things match up. If these do not, there might be a cavity.
An occlusal X-ray involves looking at all the teeth at once. Dentists can detect problems with the mouth’s floor or palate with the X-ray. The dentist might have the patient tighten the jaw to look at how the teeth line up. Then the X-ray can happen.
The dentist might have a periapical X-ray to look at the teeth from the crown to the root. It is useful for detecting issues with the root or bone structures around it. If there are changes, then the teeth might not be in alignment. There could also be decay in the area.
The dentist might recommend getting an extraoral X-ray if there are jaw problems. One of the more common types is a panoramic X-ray, used to look at the wisdom teeth. These can also find issues with the jaw and help place dental implants. The patient might have them done before having the wisdom teeth removed so the dentist can see where the teeth are.
A dentist might recommend having an X-ray done as much as every six months for some patients. These do expose the patient to some degree of radiation. Still, it might be even riskier not to have any X-rays done. Getting a full X-ray in the mouth only exposes each patient to about 1/23 of the amount of radiation that patients get from natural resources.
Every year, patients get some amount of radiation from these resources. Part of the reason for that is that today’s X-ray devices have become highly advanced. These no longer put forth quite as much radiation. That makes it less risky.