X-rays show images of the teeth and bones and help detect problems before they get serious or even before symptoms appear to the patient.
Dentists use X-rays to detect dental problems such as cavities, gum (periodontal) disease, impacted teeth and other dental problems that may not be seen during an oral examination. The X-rays show images of the teeth and bones and help detect problems before they get serious or even before symptoms appear to the patient.
Common Types of X-Rays
There are several types of dental X-rays, each with a different purpose. Among the most common are: bitewing, periapical, full-mouth series and panoramic.
Can detect decay between teeth.
Help view the bone levels around the teeth.
Are generally taken once a year, but may be taken less often if you have a history of good dental health.
Show the roots of teeth and the surrounding bone.
Typically show more of the whole tooth (above and below the gums) and jawbone than bitewing X-rays.
Are helpful in diagnosing specific problems such as abscesses around the tooth’s root.
Is a group of several periapical and bitewing X-rays showing all of the teeth and supporting bone.
Helps find complex dental problems in patients with a history of extensive dental treatment.
Is scheduled every three to five years, depending on your dental health and your risk level for problems such as gum disease.
Show the complete upper and lower jaws and teeth on a single X-ray.
Are used to see developing teeth in children.
Can determine whether orthodontic work (braces) needs to be done.
Can show injuries to the jaw.
Are recommended for patients who do not have any natural teeth.
Are very commonly taken during an initial visit to a new dentist.
The Safety of X-Rays
High-speed film, protective shields and filters installed on X-ray machines, and the use of lead-lined aprons and collars reduce the risk of unnecessary radiation to patients and dental office staff members. Additionally, electronic controls and periodic inspections of X-ray equipment increase safety. You should request the use of the apron and collar if they are not offered when your X-rays are taken.
Using X-Rays From a Former Dentist
If you are changing dentists, be sure your former dentist includes your most recent X-rays with the file being sent to your new dentist. This will help your new dentist evaluate your dental health and reduce the need and cost for new or additional X-rays.
X-Rays and Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, you want to make sure your dentist knows this, and he or she will generally avoid taking X-rays until after your baby is born. If X-rays are necessary to diagnose a serious dental problem, they may be taken with the use of lead aprons and collars as safety shields. Be sure to discuss this thoroughly with your dentist.
Dental Care for Children
Children Should brush after every meal and before bed to remove food particles and plaque.
Proper brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, regular visits to the dentist and a healthy diet that limits sugary snacks and drinks are all important to maintaining a child’s dental health. In addition, dentists can provide fluoride treatments and place sealants on your child’s teeth that will help prevent decay (cavities).
Brushing at Home
Regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste is necessary to keep the teeth clean and prevent decay. Children should brush after every meal and before bed to remove food particles and plaque. (Plaque is a sticky material that develops on teeth when food particles and bacteria are not removed.) Parents should check to make sure their child is brushing properly, and, for very young children, assist with their brushing to ensure that food and plaque are removed.
Dental sealants are plastic-like coatings that fill in the small grooves on the chewing surfaces of back teeth to help prevent decay. These grooves can be very deep and, because food and sugary substances pack into them, are prone to decay. These grooves are difficult for you to clean with a toothbrush and even for your dentist to clean.
Sealants can be placed on the permanent molars shortly after they erupt, usually between 5 and 7 years of age for the first permanent molars and between the ages of 11 and 1 3 for the second molars. Premolars may also be sealed if they have deep grooves or pits on the chewing surface. Premolars usually come in between ages 9 and 11. Baby teeth do not normally require sealants. Sealants are easily and quickly applied by your dentist or dental hygienist without drilling or anesthesia.
Fluoride is one of the most effective methods to prevent dental decay and is found in many community water supplies. You should talk with your dentist or pediatrician to see if your child needs fluoride supplements or fluoride treatments in the dental office.
A mouth guard can help protect your child’s teeth during sports and physical activities. Mouth guards must fit properly to provide protection. You should ask your dentist about the mouth guard that is most appropriate for your child’s activities.
The Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop and are located in the very back of the upper and lower jaws.
Wisdom teeth begin developing around the age of nine and typically erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. The wisdom teeth are the last teeth to develop and are located in the very back of the upper and lower jaws. Many times, wisdom teeth are discovered upon routine X-ray examination.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted means the teeth are trapped in the jawbone or gum tissue. Often, a wisdom tooth that appears impacted in the early teens may erupt into a normal position by the late teens. This depends upon the space available for eruption. If space is not available, the tooth may remain impacted. Contrary to common belief, erupting or impacted wisdom teeth do not cause crowding of other teeth.
Removing Wisdom Teeth
The removal of wisdom teeth is the most common oral surgical procedure performed in this country today, and dental professionals agree that a decline in this procedure is not likely in the near future.
Wisdom teeth are usually recommended for removal if they become routinely infected or diseased or are causing other problems. If a wisdom tooth becomes infected while it is erupting, it can be treated and might never become infected again. If it becomes infected more than once, removal of that individual tooth might be appropriate treatment. It would not be necessarily appropriate to remove all the wisdom teeth because of one infected wisdom tooth. Ask your dentist why he or she is recommending extraction of the wisdom teeth, particularly if the problem you are experiencing is not affecting all the wisdom teeth.
When teeth are extracted to prevent possible future problems, the extractions are considered preventive. In this case, since the extraction would be considered elective, it may not be covered. Be sure to check with your dental benefits carrier.
Wisdom Teeth Can Be Helpful
Every tooth you have is important to you. If you lose one or more of your back teeth, a wisdom tooth can often be used for bridgework that replaces the teeth you lost.
Questions to Ask Your Dentist or Oral Surgeon
Are my wisdom teeth unerupted? Could they possibly erupt later?
If my wisdom tooth gets infected while it is erupting, does it have to be removed?
If my wisdom teeth are impacted, do they have to be removed?
Can’t these teeth be watched, and, if they ever become a problem, remove them at that time?
What are the risks and benefits of not removing the wisdom teeth?
If I do need surgery, would I be awake or asleep during the procedure? Which is the safest way for me?
How much work/school will I miss?