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Are Dental X-Rays Safe and When Do You Need Them?

February 21, 2020 4:10 pm Published by

Dental X rays are radiographs of teeth images. X rays are used when the dentist would like to clearly see and analyse the condition of the mouth and teeth, in order to determine the line of treatment that may be required.

Dental x rays are typically taken with very low levels of radiation being released to get an idea of the interior of your mouth teeth and gums. This is to help the dentist get a clear picture about decay and cavities as well as impacted teeth.

Over the years, dental X rays have become a very important tool for the dentist to decide what the problems are inside the mouth are, and how to go about treating them.

Digital imaging

The latest technology used by dentists today is called digital imaging. These digital images are not developed in the dark room like normal images. Instead they are sent to your dentist’s computer directly over internet and your dentist can view them on his computer. These can be stored, or can be printed. These X rays are safer than the traditional X rays because there is less radiation in this method.

The waiting period is zero because there is no need to develop the X rays. The images are taken by the camera, and in just a few seconds they are on the screen.

This method is very conducive for imaging because it is right there on the screen. It is possible to enlarge and enhance the image to show you the problem: where and what.

The digital images are very easy to send to other dentists or specialists for a second opinion. In case you need to move during a treatment these images can be sent electronically to another dentist, for continuation of the treatment.

With the digital X rays technology, your dentist can install a software, where subtraction radiography can be used by your dentist to compare current images to the previous ones. In this technique all that is the same between two images can be subtracted out from the image. This leaves the image of only the portion that has changed.

Intraoral and extraoral X rays

The major two types of X rays are intraoral and extraoral.

Intraoral x rays

Here, the focus of the x ray is the inside of mouth.

  • Occlusal x rays show full tooth and placement of the same.
  • Bite wing x rays are taken to show only one area of the mouth to ascertain where the decay is and its extent. It is also used to determine the bone density loss caused by the gum diseases in the affected area. These x rays also show the proper fit of the crowns or restoration of teeth.
  • Periapical x rays are used to show the entire tooth from the crown to the end of roots reaching the jaw bone. All teeth in either upper or lower jaws are shown for the dentist to see abnormal root structures.

Extraoral x rays

They show outside of the mouth and bone structures. Extraoral X rays include the following:

  • Tomography on computer is a CT scan of the entire structures in 3D imagery.
  • Panoramic x rays show the whole area of the external mouth. It shows upper and lower teeth in the jaws to help determine the position of the fully developed and emerging teeth. Dentists need this kind of x rays to find out about impacted teeth and other ailments in the exterior mouth like tumours.
  • Cephalometric projections show a side of full head. This is important for profile examination of the teeth in relation to jaws.
  • Tomograms are used to look at the particular layer of the mouth to see the areas which are difficult to see along with other areas. This helps in clarity of the structures to be viewed in detail because they are too close to other structures to be seen in detail.
  • Salivary glands can be seen clearly in the Sialography after injecting a dye so that the radioactive substance can be viewed in detail, to study the problems of saliva.

Dental X rays are ordered for many purposes by the dental professionals. The frequency of dental x rays depends on the age of the patient and the medical requirement. In younger age more dental x rays may be needed because the dental professionals want to monitor the growth of new teeth as they are erupting and they may need to intervene early for their proper growth, in case there are crooked teeth or there is no place for the new teeth to erupt because of overcrowding. When adult teeth or permanent teeth are erupting, they need attention and care.

The number x rays need for a particular patient also depends on the current state of his teeth. A new patient will require more x rays than existing patient.

Patients with oral diseases also requires more x rays because disease like gingivitis or tooth decay has to be treated for longer periods and the dentist will want to know the exact state of the mouth before proceeding to further treatment.

Risks involved in x rays

The new computerised technology involves minimum risk of radiation. The traditional x rays also use very little radiation but your dentist will put a protective cover on your chest before taking the image.

Pregnant women should not expose themselves to x rays even when they are low radiation as these might affect the growing foetus.

Dental x rays do not require any preparation as such. It is advisable to brush your teeth before x rays for better hygiene and clean environment for those who are taking the images of inside of mouth.

A lead vest is usually used for patients with the x ray machine placed at your side near your head to record the inside of the mouth images. Many dentists keep a separate room for x rays.

With new technology the x rays have become safe, so you have nothing to worry about if you dentist has ordered an x ray.

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This post was written by Letooth

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