X-rays allow doctors to take photographs of the inside of your body. Dentists have used x-rays since the late 1800s soon after x-rays were invented to see the inside of patients’ mouths. Today, x-rays are still used in dentistry and are considered a standard practice.
There are different types of x-rays used in dentistry depending on what your dentist is using the x-ray for . But why are dental x-rays necessary? Here we review a few reasons why your dentist may suggest taking x-rays during your appointment.
To Determine Loss of Bone
If you have missing teeth and are considering dental implants as a replacement option, your dentist will need to make sure there is enough bone in your jaw to sustain the dental implant. People who have missing teeth are more likely to experience a loss of bone density in their jaw due to lack of stimulation from tooth roots.
Dental x-rays may even help reveal osteoporosis—a condition in which bone density is lost—as many people see their dentist more often than their doctor . Low bone density could also cause symptoms such as loose teeth or loose dentures.
To Identify and Treat Dental Injuries
If you have an injury to your teeth or jaw, your dentist may suggest x-rays to evaluate the problem and to determine the severity of the issue.
Types of injuries your dentist can see on an x-ray include jaw and teeth injuries in addition to dental abscesses, which is a pocket of infection that forms at the tooth’s root when the nerve tissue inside the tooth has been affected by decay or injury .
Treating dental injuries in a timely manner, especially those that result in a dental abscess, is important and dental x-rays can be a useful diagnostic tool in this respect.
To Check for Tooth Decay
Your dentist can use specific types of x-rays, including bitewing x-rays, to evaluate your teeth for cavities that exist between the teeth. These types of cavities can be difficult to diagnose from an exam alone.
X-rays can also be useful in determining the extent of tooth decay so your dentist can know if a filling will be effective in treating the cavity or if more extensive treatment such as root canal therapy will be necessary.
To Create a Treatment Plan
By using x-rays as a supplemental tool to evaluate your oral health, your dentist can design a treatment plan specific to your smile. The use of x-rays allows your dentist to have a comprehensive view of your teeth and your oral health.
X-rays are also a particularly useful tool when it comes to evaluating the development of children’s teeth to determine if intervention such as an extraction or orthodontic treatment may be necessary .
While x-rays do expose patients to a low amount of radiation, dentists usually won’t recommend x-rays unless they’re necessary. Technology allows digital x-rays to use minimal radiation, meaning today’s x-rays are safer than ever before. Talk to your dentist about x-rays and their ability to help your smile!