Dental x-rays capture your teeth and gums' interior images to help identify any potential issues like cavities, gum disease, infection, abscesses, cysts, bone loss, and more. They play an essential role in the early detection of decay.
At Dr. Hill's office, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to x-rays. We typically like to take images of your mouth during your yearly dental exam as our mission is to catch any problem areas early, treating them while relatively small and before they turn into larger, more expensive issues.
Depending on your unique health or dental concern we are seeing you for, we may need to take an additional image. For instance, if you have a broken or chipped tooth, we will more than likely take an x-ray to check the tooth's internal structure and root system for damage.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
Dental x-rays do involve radiation; however, the levels are so low they are considered safe for children and adults. The only exception to this is for women who are pregnant. It is recommended that pregnant women avoid all types of x-rays for the safety of the developing fetus.
At Dr. Hill's office, we use digital x-rays instead of traditional film, which is safer (even less radiation) and a quicker experience for our patients.
Are There Different Types of Dental X-Rays?
A big misconception about dental x-rays is the thought that they are all the same. Even though they are focused on your mouth, several different types show slightly different views. Some of the most common x-rays we take here in Dr. Hill's Office are Bitewings, Full-Mouth, and Panoramic (Pano).
Bitewing x-rays focus on one specific area of your smile at a time. Showing the visible area of your tooth's surface and part of the roots and bone. Bitewings are very helpful in detecting decay between teeth. They can also show changes in the jaw over time that may have been caused by gum disease.
A full mouth x-ray series is what you would think, a compilation of x-rays that show the entire mouth. These are taken less often than bitewings and are very helpful in establishing a starting point for your mouth's health. If you are a new patient at Dr. Hill's office, we will typically include a set of full mouth x-rays in your first initial visit with us. Times a full mouth x-ray series may be needed before any major dental work, gum disease treatment, if a jaw cyst or tumor is suspected, or if we want to get another baseline of your overall mouth health.
Panoramic x-rays are similar to full mouth x-rays. They show your whole mouth; however, they do so in one single image instead of a series of multiple photos pieced together. This type of x-ray allows us to get a good picture of both the upper and lower jaws, identify any tumors or defects, and more. While a panoramic might provide a great full picture, it doesn't quite give us the close up diagnostic capability that a full mouth set does.
How Are X-Rays Used?
After the x-rays have been taken, we will pull up your x-rays on the digital monitor in your treatment room so that you can see for yourself any areas for concern. Dr. Hill will then review the x-rays with you and develop a treatment plan if needed to treat any decay or infection.
If you have any questions or concerns, please ask! Our goal is to be partners in your health. Helping you make informed decisions on any potential dental issues while giving you the tools and resources you need to achieve a healthy smile.