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Let’s Talk About How Often You Really Need X-Rays

September 1, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — drsboyd @ 10:09 am

female patient face with x-ray machine and shieldX-rays are an important tool in dentistry. They allow your dentist to see what’s going on beneath the surface of your gums to aid in the early detection and treatment of decay, cracks or bone loss. How often do you need dental x-rays? The answer is — it depends. Every patient’s dental health history and needs are different, meaning the frequency for x-rays also varies. Some dentists are known to routinely schedule x-rays for a patient at their annual or semi-annual checkups. At the Drs. Boyd, we base our decision on whether or not to take x-rays on the patient’s current condition and previous dental history. Below we detail the different types of x-rays available and provide additional information on how they are used diagnostically to identify problem conditions.

What Types of Dental X-Rays Are There?

The five most common types of dental x-rays are:

  • Digital Bitewing x-rays: Capture images of the crowns of the back teeth or molars.  These are best to see cavities hiding between the teeth.
  • Digital Periapical x-rays: Show only one or two teeth at a time, but show the full image, root to crown.
  • Full-mouth series: A composite of multiple bite wing and periapical x-rays taken from every area of your mouth, including the crowns and roots of the molars and front teeth.  This provides a full diagnostic picture of all the teeth in the mouth.
  • Digital Panoramic x-ray: This method uses a small dose of x-rays to capture the entire mouth in one image.  This radiograph is suited for seeing big picture than small detail.  This x-ray is taken outside of the mouth.
  • CT scan or cone beam (CB) CT scan: A x-ray scan that generates a 3D image of your oral structures.  This is used when planning for dental implants, extracting third molars or evaluating pathology of the jaws.  A CBCT scan has significantly less radiation when compared to a traditional medical grade CT scan.

Why Are Dental X-Rays Important?

Dental x-rays are a highly important aspect of preventive dental care. These in-depth images help your dentist spot new cavities, as well as decay or cracks that are developing underneath an existing filling. They are also an important tool to identify bone loss related to periodontal disease.

Even denture wearers who don’t have any remaining natural teeth should periodically have dental x-rays taken. They allow your dentist to check your jawbone structure, as well as any existing teeth or tooth remnants beneath the surface of the gums.  It is also important to monitor for cysts and other pathologies existing in the jaws.

Concern Regarding Radiation Exposure with X-Rays

It’s not uncommon for patients to consider forgoing x-rays due to their concern about radiation. But with modern advances in dentistry, there’s really no need to fear excessive radiation exposure. The Drs. Boyd offer digital x-rays, which capture highly accurate images while drastically reducing the use of radiation and, as always, we protect our patients with lead-lined aprons and thyroid collars.

Don’t miss out on this crucial aspect of preventive dental care. Contact our office to request an appointment to benefit from early detection and quick treatment!

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