X-rays may not be the fan favorite when it comes to dental visits. They can be a little awkward and some of us really struggle with the gag factor. Can’t we just do without? Everything looks okay in there anyway, right?
While there are some situations (such as pregnancy) that call for skipping your yearly check-up images, regular x-rays are one of our primary diagnostic tools and we highly recommend keeping them up to date.
WHAT CAN WE DIAGNOSE WITH A DENTAL X-RAY?
Most commonly, we use x-rays to diagnose decay between the teeth and sometimes under existing crowns and fillings. These areas are invisible to the naked eye. They also happen to be the spots most likely to develop cavities. Without x-rays, hidden decay is left to grow.
But hey, if it’s not hurting, there’s not problem, right? Not exactly. Some decay develops without symptoms until it reaches the central core of the tooth, where the blood and nerve supplies are. However, if we can spot areas of concern early, while they’re still small and superficial, we can do a much more conservative treatment. This saves you discomfort, time, and money!
Our x-ray images give us so much more than just a way to spot cavities. We can also check the supporting bone around your teeth. Your bone level indicates how stable your teeth are. It can alert us to periodontal disease (which is a type of advanced gum disease). If you have a bite problem or a crack, some types of radiographs can show us signs of strain like thick ligaments around the teeth.
Some images can also help us detect bony tumors and other malignant conditions that can go unnoticed for years before they cause problems.
We can also check for deep tartar deposits below your gums with an x-ray. As thorough as your hygienist will always be here at Anderson Family Dental, there are some spots that are best checked on an x-ray. This is the best way for us to ensure your cleaning is completed to perfection.
When you first visit, these images will also let us know what kind of cleaning you will need to get started on your journey to great oral health. If it’s been a while, we will need to use x-ray images to see if you need a deeper cleaning, or if we should recommend numbing for some areas.
ARE DENTAL X-RAYS SAFE?
In short, yes. Dental x-rays are one of the safest types of medical imaging. To give you some idea of how little radiation exposure you get from dental x-rays, here are a few figures for comparison:
Eating a Banana: about 0.01 microSievert of radiation
A Single Dental X-Ray: about 5 microSieverts
Daily Background Radiation: about 8 microSieverts
Flight from NY to LA: about 40 microSieverts
Not only are we using incredibly low doses of radiation, but we also take extra precautions to ensure your images are as safe as possible. We’ll keep you covered with a lead apron. We use the fastest sensors available (which need less radiation to produce an image). We will never recommend unnecessary images. So you can rest assured that we are providing the best possible diagnostics at the lowest possible risk. The minimal amount of radiation exposure from dental x-rays protects you from decay, infection, abscess, tooth loss, and more.
As always, we strive to earn the continued trust of our patients. Providing excellent diagnostic images is just one of the many ways we treat our patients like family.