When it comes to maintaining your oral health, dental x-rays are an important part of detecting potential dental problems. Most dentists recommend their patients get dental x-rays 1-2 times per year during their semi-annual dental exams. Luckily dental x-rays are quick, painless, and safe. While some people may be worried about radiation, the amount of radiation used for dental x-rays is such a small amount that you are exposed to more radiation just going about your daily routine than you are during dental x-rays.
Still, some people wonder why it is necessary to have dental x-rays performed so frequently. After all, your primary care provider doesn’t just send you to get x-rays at every physical. The reason why your dentist performs dental x-rays is because they allow them to fully evaluate your oral health. You see, there are certain parts of the mouth that cannot be easily seen, such as between two teeth. However, dental x-rays provide a range of images taken at different angles so your dentist can make sure your teeth are healthy.
While it is always the hope that your dental x-rays won’t find anything suspicious, here are some of the dental issues that dental x-rays can detect:
One common reason why your dentist has you get dental x-rays taken is because they can detect tooth decay in various stages. In some cases, this may allow your dentist to detect early signs of tooth decay that can be treated with fluoride. Dental x-rays also let your dentist see decay in areas that they simply cannot see during a visual exam, like in between teeth or below the gum line. Not only that, but dental x-rays also show the extent of decay so your dentist can create an effective treatment plan.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
While wisdom teeth are supposed to erupt around the late teens and early twenties, they don’t always erupt properly. In fact, many people end up needing to have their wisdom teeth extracted because they are a threat to their oral health. Dental x-rays allow your dentist to closely monitor the position of your wisdom teeth to determine if they will erupt properly or if an extraction would be a better alternative. Not only that, but dental x-rays can identify cysts that tend to form around wisdom teeth trapped underneath the gum line. All this information can help your dentist plan for the best treatment outcomes.
Dental x-rays also allow your dentist to evaluate the health of your jawbone. This is especially important if you have lost one or more teeth. Losing one or more of your teeth causes the body to take bone mass from your jaw and distribute it to other parts of your body. The longer this process continues, the less bone mass you will have in your jaw. When caught early, bone loss can be remedied using a bone graft and dental implants. Since bone loss occurs about six months after losing a tooth, it is recommended to see your dentist as soon as you lose a tooth.
Sometimes, damaged teeth can easily be seen by just opening your mouth. Other times, however, the damage may be so minimal that it can only be seen with a dental x-ray. This is especially true of tiny tooth fractures or fractures that form in between the teeth or around an old dental restoration.
Old Dental Restorations
Finally, dental x-rays can be used to determine when it is time to replace an old dental restoration. Although a visual exam can determine if a restoration needs to be replaced, a dental x-ray can show if there is any decay around or underneath the restoration that your dentist should be aware of. This lets them know if they can simply replace the restoration or if another type of restoration needs to be used instead.
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.