Dental radiographs (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; it is essential that necessary x-rays be taken in order to properly diagnose any sub-gingival issues.
Dental x-rays may reveal:
Abscesses or cysts.
Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
Decay between the teeth.
Poor tooth and root positions.
Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth.
Are dental x-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources. For example, a banana has 10 milli-sieverts of radiation, which is approximately the same or slightly more than the amount of radiation a person receives from one digital peri-apical film.
Dr. Mabry has the latest digital x-ray technology. The use of digital radiography, or digital x-rays, greatly reduces the radiation exposure that the old x-ray films needed. In addition, the ability to manipulate the x-ray on the computer screen greatly reduces the need to ever "re-take" a x-ray because of poor contrast.
Digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe. We take all necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation when taking dental x-rays. These precautions include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using the ALARA principle, which dictates that we use "as low as reasonably achievable" amounts of radiation when taking x-rays.
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 on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for 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 with your general dentist and are recommended once a year to detect any new dental problems.