Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take
dental x-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray
film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. This image can
be instantly viewed and enlarged helping the dentist and dental hygienist
detect problems easier. Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the
already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.
Dental x-rays are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide
valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and
dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden
dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays,
problem areas may go undetected.
Dental x-rays may reveal:
- Abscesses or cysts.
- Bone loss.
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
- Decay between the teeth.
- Developmental abnormalities.
- Poor tooth and root positions.
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage may save you time,
money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!
Are dental x-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays
produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional
dental x-rays. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of
the patient, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your
time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured
electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the
disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment.
Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered
very safe, dentists still take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s
exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those x-rays that
are necessary, and using lead apron shields to protect the body.
How often should dental x-rays be taken?
The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health
needs. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based
upon the review of your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and
symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.
A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients. A
full series is usually good for three to five years.
Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are
taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to
detect new dental problems.