Dental X-ray examinations provide valuable information that helps your dentist evaluate your oral health. With the help of radiographs (the term for pictures taken with X-rays), Dr. Walker can look at what is happening beneath the surface of your teeth and gums.
As X-rays pass through your mouth they are mostly absorbed by teeth and bone because these tissues are denser than cheeks and gums. When X-rays strike the film or a digital sensor, an image called a radiograph is created. Radiographs allow your dentist to see hidden abnormalities, like tooth decay, infections and signs of gum disease, including changes in the bone and ligaments holding teeth in place.
How often X-rays (radiographs) should be taken depends on your present oral health, your age, your risk for disease, and any signs and symptoms of oral disease you may be experiencing. For example, children may require X-rays more often than adults. This is because their teeth and jaws are still developing. Also their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults. Dr. Walker will review your history, examine your mouth and then decide whether or not you need radiographs.
If you are a new patient, Dr. Walker may recommend radiographs to determine the present status of your oral health and to help identify changes that may occur later. A new set of X-rays may be needed to help your dentist detect any new cavities, determine the status of your gum health or evaluate the growth and development of your teeth. If a previous dentist has any radiographs of you, Dr. Walker may ask you for copies of them.
Because many diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues cannot be seen when your dentist examines your mouth, an X-ray examination can help reveal:
- small areas of decay between the teeth or below existing restorations (fillings)
- infections in the bone
- periodontal (gum) disease
- abscesses or cysts
- developmental abnormalities
- some types of tumors
Finding and treating dental problems at an early stage can save time, money and unnecessary discomfort. Radiographs can help your dentist detect problems in your mouth that otherwise would not be seen.
The amount of radiation that we are exposed to from dental X-rays is very small compared to our daily exposure from things like, cosmic radiation and naturally-occurring radioactive elements (for example, those producing radon). By using digital X-rays, we are able to reduce the amount of radiation even more than traditional X-rays.