By now you probably understand the importance of needing to go to the dentist for a routine dental cleaning. Routine cleanings allow dentists to keep tabs on your oral health and can detect any issues before they become big problems down the road. But perhaps you aren’t sure why you also occasionally receive dental x-rays during these cleanings or during an initial appointment. At All Pro Dental, we’re here to explain the rationale behind why it’s so important that we use dental x-rays during patient visits.
Types of X-Rays
First things first, there are a few different types of x-rays you may be subject to depending on your oral health needs and the dental office you attend. The most common are bitewing, periapical and panoramic x-rays — all of which allow the dentist and hygienists to observe your teeth and jaw from different angles and perspectives. The bitewing x-rays are normally used for taking images of the top (or crown) of your teeth, while periapical show the height and roots of your teeth, and the panoramic (taken from the side of the mouth) is used to assess your bite, bone irregularities, jaw issues or tumors. If you are a new patient, all dental offices will start off with taking a series of x-rays while subsequent future appointments may not require x-rays at all, or just a few.
Benefits of Dental X-Rays
While a visual inspection of your oral cavity is important, sometimes dental hygienists and doctors might not be able to see what lies underneath. There may be signs (bleeding gums, receding gums, cracked teeth, etc) of underlying issues, but it is often difficult to make a full diagnosis without consulting x-rays. Dental x-rays can help our staff at All Pro Dental detect the following:
- Abnormalities. Whether these abnormalities are of your teeth, jaw, or surrounding bone structure, x-rays are a useful tool in assessing whether or not a patient is suffering an oral health issue due to a bone structure abnormality. We can even detect whether or not a patient has previously broken their nose from our x-rays.
- Tumors. While we always screen and visually check for oral cancer signs, tumors can also appear in x-ray photographs. Sometimes tumors are difficult to spot because they do not protrude into the oral cavity but instead burrow — which is why it is always safe to check via x-ray.
- Periodontal Disease. The leading cause of tooth loss in America is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the result of poor dental hygiene and is the final stage of gum disease and periodontitis. X-rays will be able to help our doctor determine how severe the periodontal disease is and will help us make decisions regarding your treatment plan.
- Bone Infections. Bone infections are rare but can occur if there is tooth loss, gum disease, or an untreated cavity involved. Oftentimes food particles and bacteria can enter through a cavity and infect not only the gums and the root of the tooth, but also the jaw bone.
- Cavities. The main purpose of a routine dental x-ray is to detect “soft spots” and cavities between the teeth or on the surface of the teeth. Cavities occur when the enamel (the outer coating) of your teeth is worn down due to bacteria and plaque buildup; these can be found either on the top of the teeth or between the teeth. Irregular brushing and flossing is the biggest cause of cavity development.
- Wisdom Tooth Development. For those in their teens or early 20’s, x-rays are a great way to determine whether or not you will develop wisdom teeth. Many times our doctor will be able to tell you early on how many you will have and we will keep an eye on their development until it is time to undergo wisdom tooth extraction. Sometimes patients don’t need their wisdom teeth removed, but more often than not they will crowd the surrounding teeth and can cause pain. X-rays will determine whether or not you are a candidate for wisdom tooth removal.
Have you received a dental x-ray recently? If not, contact All Pro Dental today and request an appointment so that you have up-to-date dental x-rays.