Dental radiographs, more commonly referred to as dental X-rays, are images obtained using high-energy electromagnetic radiation. They’re used to get a peek inside a person’s body.
Dental X-rays are a routine part of a comprehensive dental exam. Dentists use X-rays of your teeth and gums to diagnose problems that aren’t apparent during a visual examination. `
What Do Dental X-rays Show?
Dental X-rays are an important diagnostic tool that can reveal:
- Decay between and within the teeth
- Decay beneath fillings
- The extent of trauma to a tooth
- Bone loss in the jaw
- The exact position of the teeth
- Cysts and tumors
In children, dental x-rays can be used to monitor potential tooth decay, the development of the wisdom teeth, and watch for any impacted teeth.
What Exactly Are X-Rays?
Radiography is an imaging technique that uses X-rays and other forms of high-energy electromagnetic radiation to view the internal form of an object. X-rays are used in industrial applications as well for medical and dental imaging.
To create an image, a beam of X-rays is projected towards the subject. A certain amount of the X-rays are absorbed, depending on the density and composition of the subject. The ones that pass through the subject are captured by a photographic or digital detector.
X-rays were discovered by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, a Professor at Wuerzburg University in Germany, in 1895. He also discovered the medical use for X-rays when he formed an image of his wife’s hand on a photographic plate using X-rays. X-rays were soon put to diagnostic use, with several radiographic laboratories and X-ray departments springing up around the turn of the last century.
The Different Types of Dental X-Rays
X-rays are now used in medicine for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Dental X-rays are a form of diagnostic X-rays — they’re used to diagnose a medical condition, such as tooth decay. Therapeutic X-rays, also known as radiation oncology, are therapies that utilize x-rays and other types of radiation to treat certain medical conditions. Radiation oncology is very effective in treating some forms of cancer.
There are three main types of X-rays your dentist may take during an examination or prior to a dental procedure. The most common are the bitewing, periapical, and panoramic radiographs.
- Bitewing: The dentist uses bitewing X-rays to examine your bicuspids for signs of decay.
- Periapical: These X-rays are used in situations where the dentist wants to look at only a single tooth all the way from root to crown, such as prior to a root canal or dental implant procedure.
- Panoramic: This type of X-ray shows the entire mouth in one image.
Other imaging techniques your dentist may recommend include tomograms, cephalometric projections, sialograms, dental computer tomography, cone-beam CT, or an MRI.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
Safety is one of the big concerns patients have about dental X-rays. The American Dental Association (ADA) says that dental X-rays are perfectly safe as long as the dentist or technician taking the X-rays has been properly certified for the procedure. The low levels of radiation patients are briefly exposed to cause no harmful effects. The doctor will have you wear a lead apron for extra protection.
How Often Do I Need to Get Dental X-Rays?
Your dentist will determine whether you need an x-ray based on recent cavity activity. It is typical to have x-rays every six months to a year. Kids may need to have x-rays taken more often than adults because their teeth are changing and they tend to get more cavities.
The Dental Space is the Place for Outstanding Dental Care in San Marcos, TX
The Dental Space is the place for outstanding family dental treatment in San Marcos, TX. Dr. McCartor and his staff are here to ensure you and your family have the brightest and healthiest smile possible. We provide state-of-the-art dental treatments to patients of all ages — even those as young as six months.
Some of the services we offer our patients include:
- Complete family dental care
- Teeth whitening
- Tooth extractions
- Cosmetic dentistry
- Removable partial dentures
- Emergency dental services
The Dental Space is located at 101 Thorpe Lane, Suite 101, just off IH 35 in the Springtown Center Shopping Mall. We serve patients in San Marcos, TX, as well as Maxwell, Kyle, Wimberly, Martindale, Redwood, Reedville, and other Hays County communities. The Dental Space always welcomes new patients; we provide many payment options and accept most forms of dental insurance.
Contact The Dental Space through our website, or call us at 512-667-9770 to schedule your exam today. If it’s an emergency, we’ll try and see you the same day you call.