Many patients often wonder why dentists need to take x-rays when they feel no pain or feel there is nothing wrong with their mouth.

Taking dental x-rays helps dentists to accurately diagnose issues or problems.  When your dentist performs an oral exam or dental checkup, having x-rays allows them to see what is happening both above the gums and below the gums.  Without accompanying dental x-rays, it is difficult to know what is occurring between the teeth as well.

Your dental hygienist also relies on the use of x-rays to remove or clean built up deposits under your gums that are not visible under the gum.

Digital and Traditional X-rays

Advancements in x-ray technology has led to the invention and use of digital x-rays.  Digital x-rays use much less radiation than traditional x-rays.  Digital x-rays also allow for a more detailed view due to the ability to modify the contrast, brightness and sharpness of the digital image.  They can also be used to monitor the bone levels or bone loss by overlapping previous digital x-rays using the subtraction method of imaging.

Types of Dental X-Rays

There are a few types of dental x-rays that each have a specific purpose.

Panoramic Dental X-Ray:
These types of x-rays are used to see the entire mouth and to monitor the wisdom teeth.  Sometimes a wisdom tooth may be naturally or congenitally missing.  Other times the wisdom tooth may be positioned on its side, and never emerge through the gums.  A panoramic xray can reveal their position and give the dentist an idea of when they will appear in the mouth.

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Bitewing Dental X-Ray:
These types of x-rays are used to detect problems with the teeth due to their detailed view.  They can be used to detect cavities,  bone loss, damaged fillings and more.  These are the most common types of x-rays used in a dental office.


Periapical Dental X-Ray:
These dental x-rays are used to detect problems with the teeth and bone.  They allow the dentist to see the bone levels due to their expanded vertical viewing area.  They are also used to detect cavities, abscesses, bone loss, damaged fillings just like bitewing x-rays.


Depending on your oral health or condition, your dentist will prescribe x-rays on an interval that suits your oral condition.  Regular dental checkups along with dental x-rays can help dentists to monitor and prevent issues before they result in pain or more invasive procedures.

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