During many of your routine dental visits, the dentist may ask you to open wide, place a sensor in your mouth and tell you to hold it still while an X-ray of your teeth is done. Then the image is captured for your dentist to view on a screen. You’ve probably had a few questions about the process: How does this work? What exactly is the dentist looking for? Is this dangerous?
Here is exactly what is going on during that routine X-ray of your teeth.
How the Digital X-ray Works
A digital dental X-ray is one way your dentist checks for tooth decay, infection or any other substantial changes to your teeth. As the X-ray passes through your mouth, your bones and gums absorb the majority of the light. This appears as the white part on the digital radiograph, which is the image produced at the end of the X-ray. If some areas appear darker on the digital radiograph, the dentist knows to look for possible tooth decay or for infection. X-rays can also show any developmental abnormalities, such as impacted wisdom teeth.
What Your Dentist Does Next
If there are indeed areas of infection or tooth decay, your dentist may decide to take another X-ray to further investigate the area. This can provide more information such as the scope of the infection or if there are possible cysts, abscesses and/or tumors. If you have impacted wisdom teeth, the X-rays will also give the dentist an idea of the best steps for removal.
The Frequency of Dental X-rays
How often do you need these types of X-rays? This depends on your age and individual oral health. Children and young adults often require oral X-rays more frequently because their teeth and jaws are still developing. If you are prone to tooth decay, your dentist may advise more regular dental X-ray exams. You will also undergo an X-ray before a root canal or tooth extraction.
Alternatively, X-rays will likely be taken if you switch to a new dental health provider so that your new provider can identify any problems with your teeth and/or gums.
The Safety of Dental X-rays
Whether for a dental examination or radiographs of your arm, radiation is part of any X-ray examination. However, studies have shown that the amount of radiation involved in an oral X-ray is extremely small. Digital X-rays, which are used at Klement Family Dental, employ 80 to 90 percent less radiation than traditional X-ray film. The most comparable amount of radiation is found in other similar daily environments, such as from a TV or during airport security screenings.
If you’re looking for an excellent dental office in the St. Petersburg area, look no further than Klement Family Dental. Our dentists offer a wide range of services, including general, preventative and cosmetic dentistry. Schedule an appointment online, or give us a call today.