Of all the dental diagnostic tools used, x-rays seem to be the least enjoyable, probably because of having a device between your teeth. While it may not be painful, x-rays can be uncomfortable. But, as daunting as they may appear, they are an essential diagnostic tool used by our dentist in San Pablo, CA.
A dental x-ray or radiograph is an image of the teeth used to evaluate the condition of your oral health. It uses low-level radiation to capture images and highlight the areas with an issue.
The dentist uses an x-ray to examine areas that are not visible with an oral exam. X-rays show areas where there is decay in the root structures, bone loss, changes in the bone after a root canal infection, or abscess. The dentist can also use an x-ray to assist in the braces, tooth implants, or bridge dental procedures.
When you have a dental problem, a dentist will first do a visual examination to check the problem areas. However, in most cases, a visual exam may not be enough, and that is why a dentist may recommend a dental x-ray near you.
An x-ray allows the dentist to check inside and between the teeth and give them a whole picture for a proper diagnosis. The dentist will also detect dental problems early and treat them before they worsen.
Dental x-rays come in different types, but they are all categorized in two—intraoral and extraoral.
These x-rays are the commonly used types as they reveal what is going on in the teeth and roots. The dentist can also use them to check the condition of the supporting bone or diagnose periodontal disease. These intraoral x-rays include:
Bite-wing x-rays have a wing-shaped device that you bite down. They are used to show details of the upper and lower teeth. Each x-ray examines the tooth from the crown to the supporting bone. The dentists often use these x-rays to check for decay and changes in bone density, if any. The x-rays are also used to check the fit of a crown restoration or the integrity of the teeth fillings.
Periapical x-rays are used to examine the entire tooth from the crown to where the tooth is anchored to the jaw. They help to detect any abnormalities of the root and the supporting bone.
They are used to show the development and placement of the teeth. They are larger than most of the other types and are used to show the entire arch of the teeth in the top to the bottom jaw.
These x-rays show the teeth but focus more on the jaw and skull. However, they do not offer a detailed report compared to the intraoral x-rays and cannot be used to detect decay. They are used to check for impacted teeth, monitor the growth and development of the jaw, and check for jaw problems like TMJ.
The frequency of the x-rays depends on your oral health. Some people need it every six months, especially if gum disease and decay are present; others can have an x-ray every couple of years. Your dentist will perform a comprehensive assessment to determine the baseline record.
Visit iSmile Dental San Pablo for more information about dental x-rays and what you can expect.