Dental X-rays help dentists and hygienists to see diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissue that cannot be seen with a simple oral exam. X-rays help the dentist find and treat dental problems early, which can potentially save you money and unnecessary discomfort.
In adults, dental X-rays can be used to:
* Show areas of decay that may not be visible with an oral exam, especially small areas of decay between teeth. If a cavity is detected when it is small, it can typically be fixed with a simple filling.
*Identify decay occurring beneath an existing filling. Over time, existing fillings can break down and decay can reoccur. If a tooth has had a root canal, the patient may not experience any symptoms or warning signs that an issue is arising.
*Reveal bone loss that accompanies gum disease
*Reveal changes in the bone or in the root canal resulting from infection
*Assist in the preparation of tooth implants, braces, dentures, or other dental procedures
In children, dental x-rays can be used to:
* Check for cavities
* Monitor growth and development
*Check for the development of wisdom teeth
*Detect other developmental abnormalities, such as cysts and some types of tumors
At Morgantown Dental Group, we currently utilize digital technology and recommend the following dental x-rays:
* 4 Bitewings once per year. This type of x-ray takes a view of in between the teeth, where we cannot see with a visual exam. This x-ray helps us diagnose cavities while they are small and still easy to restore, it also helps us monitor bone health around the teeth.
* Panoramic x-ray every 3-5 years. This x-ray helps us to see all of the teeth, all of the roots of the teeth and all of the jawbone at the same time. It can help detect infection or jaw abnormalities. In children, this film is also used to monitor growth and development. It can also be used to check for wisdom teeth and orthodontic (braces) needs.
* Periapical x-ray as needed. This x-ray is a close up of an individual tooth and its root. It can be used to determine what is causing a toothache or problem and help the dentist determine treatment.
* 3D dental scan as needed. This x-ray is comparable to a CT scan. It allows the doctor to see a three-dimensional view of the jaw and teeth. It an be used to aid with implant placement and can also help diagnose problematic teeth.
Dental x-rays are one of the lowest radiation dose studies performed. A routine exam which includes 4 bitewings is about 0.005 mSv, which is less than one day of natural background radiation. It is also about the same amount of radiation exposure from a short airplane flight (~1-2 hrs).
We often hear the question of why our staff leave the room if dental x-rays are safe. The answer is because the staff would be exposed all day everyday and they would be receiving more radiation than a routine exam.