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Dental X-rays: The Complete Guide

dental x-rays

26 Sep Dental X-rays: The Complete Guide

Many people find themselves in need of dental x-rays. Likewise, many people find themselves clueless about the process. Dental x-rays are common occurrences at dental practices, and you deserve to know what they entail. Prepare yourself for an x-ray and learn everything you should know about them.

What are dental x-rays?

When a dentist needs to see inside your mouth, an x-ray may be a necessity. Without one, it may be impossible for her to determine what dental work is necessary. X-rays are common procedures that dentists use to diagnose problems and come up with treatments.

In several ways, dental x-rays differ from regular x-rays. For one, they don’t use high doses of radiation. They use much less radiation. For example, an exam with four bitewing x-rays puts you in contact with as much radiation as two hours on an airplane. As a result, the procedure is very safe.

Uses for x-rays in adults

Although x-rays are safe, a dentist only uses them for issues that they can’t see with their eyes. Specifically, they could look for one of the following in adults:

  • Decay between your teeth or under a filling
  • Bone loss that occurred due to gum disease
  • An infection or abscess at the root of your tooth or between your gum and tooth
  • Tumors in your mouth
  • Any visible changes in your root canal
  • A reference for implants, braces, dentures, or any other treatment

Without dental x-rays, a dentist may not be able to give you the best treatment possible. X-rays give them a clear view of your issues and help them find a suitable treatment method. They eliminate guesswork and make sure your oral health is as good as it can be.

Uses for x-rays in children

Of course, adults aren’t the only ones who can benefit from a dental x-ray. The procedure is safe for children, and it can be very useful. For example, a dentist may use it to ensure that the mouth is large enough for a child’s teeth. She could also use it to keep track of the incoming wisdom teeth. If they look like they may cause a problem, your child’s dentist can prepare for it. Dentists can also use x-rays in children to identify decay or gum disease before it becomes a major problem.

A child’s dental health is just as important (if not more important) than an adult’s dental health. By taking advantage of the benefits of dental x-rays, you can make sure your child gets the care he needs. It all starts with regular dental check-ups and listening to the advice of your dentist.

Safety Concerns

While the radiation associated with a dental x-ray is minimal, there is the issue of safety. For one, there’s the safety of pregnant women to consider. There is no way to say for sure whether a fetus is safe from the radiation of x-rays. Therefore, doctors and dentists recommend that you avoid any dental x-ray if you are pregnant.

Despite the warnings, you may still need a dental x-ray if you are pregnant. It all depends on the situation. While the safety of your baby is paramount, your own safety and health matters as well. There are only a couple of scenarios that might warrant x-rays on a pregnant woman. If you’re unsure whether you’re a candidate for x-rays, your dentist can advise you on those scenarios.

For example, a dental emergency could require x-rays. Without an x-ray, you could face long-term consequences. Another situation that could merit an x-ray is your current treatment plan. If you become pregnant in the middle of your plan, you may need an x-ray. In either case, your dentist can help you protect your baby. She can give you a leaded apron or a thyroid collar. Either one can keep the radiation to a minimum.

Other Safety Concerns

In general, x-rays are only used when they are necessary. It’s up to your dentist to decide whether you need one and whether it’s safe. There are a few factors that may influence your dentist’s decision. First, she may consider your age. Being too old or too young can put you more at risk to the radiation of x-rays. Second, she may consider your stage of dental development. Another consideration is the history of your oral health. The more serious your history, the more likely an x-ray can help you. If you have a risk of certain oral conditions, an x-ray could help you to identify those. Likewise, an x-ray could help if you are showing certain symptoms.

It all comes down to necessity. If your dentist feels that you need an x-ray, she will advise you to get one. However, your dentist will not put you at unnecessary risk. If you have any concerns about the risk of a dental x-ray, you can speak to your dentist.