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The Importance of Dental X-Rays

Black dentist talking with a patient about dental x-rays

If you’ve ever experienced a serious injury that required a hospital visit, chances are that the first step was to receive an X-ray to identify any broken bones or injuries beneath the skin. But why then are dental X-rays important? What can they reveal and how do they aid dentists in diagnosing or treating conditions of the mouth? And, are dental X-rays safe?

The truth is that X-rays at a dental visit are an incredibly important aspect of your treatment, which is why your dentist requires new X-rays to be taken at least once per year. Children and those who have a history of other oral complications may be required to have more frequent scans. Even if you have a naturally bright, white smile, certain issues can come creeping up with your teeth that you might not be able to notice with just a visual observation alone. These issues can develop slowly and unnoticeably. This is why X-rays are a crucial part of your annual dental routine.

What are dental X-rays?

Dental X-rays are not that much different from the customary X-rays you’d receive at either a doctor’s office or hospital. Overall, a dental X-ray is a form of energy that can pass through light-density objects – which include gums, lips, and cheeks – but get absorbed by high density objects, such as bone and teeth. This is why your teeth appear bright white in the final images. Sometimes, issues in the mouth cannot be detected by a visual examination alone, like teeth that are growing beneath the gums, as an example. A dental X-ray can reveal any existing issues or detect complications that may be developing to allow for proactive treatment.

What issues can be detected by dental X-rays?

An X-ray can showcase the entirety of the tooth – from the tips down to the roots beneath the gum line. As a result, a wide array of conditions can be detected via dental X-rays, including:

Thanks to dental X-rays, many of the above conditions can be detected and treated early, thus preventing any serious damage to the mouth and saving you money on treatment costs. Finding arising complications early on –such as infections hidden underneath fillings – can only be accomplished with the help of X-rays conducted by your dentist. This will ultimately prevent significantly worse issues from developing.

Are X-rays safe?

Typically, the biggest concern surrounding X-rays is the amount of radiation that patients are exposed to. If you are worried, keep in mind that during a routine visit, the amount of radiation you will be exposed to during dental X-rays is incredibly small. In addition, dental offices now use digital X-rays which have an even smaller exposure to radiation than the older version of X-rays. Safety precautions –such as the heavy lead vest that you wear –help to further mitigate the amount of radiation you receive. These X-rays are safe, painless, and will only take a few minutes to perform to ensure the long-term safety of your oral health.

If you are pregnant, be sure to let your dentist know before receiving X-rays. Your dentist will try to avoid taking X-rays if at all possible, especially during the first trimester.

Types of X-rays

The two most common types of dental X-rays are “intraoral” and “extraoral.” Intraoral X-rays are typically known as “bitewing” X-rays, which show the upper and lower teeth in one section of the mouth at a time. A bitewing X-ray reveals the condition of the top of the tooth down to the root, and can help uncover issues such as tooth decay or gum disease.

Extraoral X-rays are most commonly performed as panoramic X-rays that show the entirety of the mouth in one scan. These can be used to detect issues such as how teeth grow in, if they are overcrowding, and also reveal potentially impacted teeth (such as wisdom teeth).

Schedule your visit

If you are overdue for an X-ray, schedule your visit with Dental365. Our professional staff will ensure that you have a safe and comfortable visit as part of an annual checkup visit. Our X-rays can help keep your mouth healthy and prevent worse issues down the line. Call our office at 844.365.DENTAL or contact us online today.


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