What Your Dentist Is Looking for When They Look at Your X-Rays

X-rays allow your dentist to see so much more than they can with the naked eye. While an oralexam is an important part of your dental checkup, x-rays allow your dentist to “fill in the blanks” and see what they can’t see with their eyes alone. X-rays can reveal the condition of your tooth enamel, the inner chamber of your tooth, and much more. Here’s what your dentist is looking for when they look at your x-rays during your regular checkups!

Tooth Decay

While tooth decay can be spotted by your dental hygienist and dentist during your exam, x-rays are necessary to see in-between teeth where your dentist can’t look during a manual exam.

X-rays can show early tooth decay, or places where the tooth enamel may be weak and susceptible to decay. X-rays give your dentist a chance to identify decay that may be hiding from plain sight. They can even show decay that’s occurring beneath existing fillings.

To detect problems such as tooth decay, x-rays are generally recommended once a year, but it depends on your unique oral health and your dentist’s professional judgement as to how often you may need them [1].

Bone Loss

X-rays can not only show cavities between your teeth, but they can also show bone loss [2]. Bone loss in the jaw would be a concern for patients who require certain restorative procedures such as dental implants. While jawbone naturally loses some of its density over time, certain conditions, such as osteoporosis, missing teeth, or a nutrient deficiency, can accelerate this process.

Abscesses or Tumors

If you have a tooth abscess, which is indicative of an infection, or a tumor, x-rays can show this. Sometimes, an abscess or tumor can be felt during your oral exam as a lump in your face, but other times, the abscess may be too small to feel. X-rays can also show problems with an existing dental restoration, such as a root canal, that may need professional attention [3]. These are things your dentist can’t see with their eyes during a manual exam.

The Position of Your Teeth

Your dentist may be looking for a better picture of the position of your teeth, which can be necessary for cosmetic or restorative procedures such as veneers or dental implants. However, x-rays are also necessary prior to orthodontic treatment. Your dentist may also recommend x-rays to identify the position of wisdom teeth and to see if the third molars are coming in crooked and could need to be removed.

X-Rays Are an Essential Part of Your Checkup

Getting x-rays is an important part of your regular dental checkup as well as appointments where you may be experiencing pain or discomfort. Your dentist will check for tooth decay, potential infections, bone density, and teeth positioning that can’t be seen with an oral exam alone. Next time you schedule your checkup, your dentist will take x-rays to ensure your smile is healthy and support your goals for your oral health!

Sources:
1. https://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/x-rays
2. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw211991
3. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11199-dental-x-rays

Summary
What Your Dentist Is Looking for When They Look at Your X-Rays
Article Name
What Your Dentist Is Looking for When They Look at Your X-Rays
Description
X-rays can reveal the condition of your tooth enamel, the inner chamber of your tooth, and much more. Here’s what your dentist is looking for when they look at your x-rays during your regular checkups!
Author
Lansdowne Dental Associates