Dental x rays, also referred to as radiographs, are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that dentists use to provide valuable information not visible to the naked eye during your general dentistry routine exam. Our Raleigh dentist and dental hygienists use your x rays to safely and accurately detect dental abnormalities that may be hidden and complete an accurate treatment plan for them. Without the help of x rays, oral problem areas may go undetected.

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What are the types of dental x rays?

There are two main types of dental x rays: intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral x rays are taken by film placed inside the mouth while extraoral x rays are taken by film placed on the outside of the mouth.

Occlusal x rays, periapical x rays, and bite-wing x rays are all types of intraoral x rays that show different aspects of teeth.

Tomograms, computed tomography (otherwise known as CT scanning), cephalometric projections, sialography, and panoramic x rays are all types of extraoral x rays.

What do dental x rays diagnose?

  • Damaged tooth roots
  • Developing cavities (often discovered in areas between teeth that are not visible otherwise)
  • Cysts or abscesses in the mouth
  • Bone loss
  • Periodontal disease including bone loss
  • Tumors (cancerous and non-cancerous)
  • Abnormalities in the mouth development
  • Abnormal positioning of the teeth and roots (impacted wisdom teeth would be a common example)
  • Problems inside the teeth or below the gums
  • Detecting dental problems at an early stage, treating and preventing those problems so you can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth
  • Defective fillings and restorations

How safe are dental x rays?

Dental x rays are considered extremely safe because they only produce a low level of radiation. Our Raleigh dentist takes the necessary precautions to limit the exposure to radiation that a patient has during dental x rays. We use lead apron shields to protect the patient’s body and use modern, fast film that cuts the time it takes to capture an x ray, also limiting the exposure of radiation. There is about the same amount of radiation in four bitewing x rays as there is during a one or two-hour on an airplane.

How often should dental x rays be taken?

The frequency of needing dental x rays depends on the status of your dental health.  Genetics play a key role when it comes to dental health. For example, a college student in their early twenties who has kept up with regular teeth cleaning and prevention but also comes from a family with a history of substantial tooth decay and periodontal issues will likely need more frequent dental x ray check-ups than an elderly man with average dental health. In short, every patients’ needs differ when it comes to dental x rays, and Dr. Schmorr will determine how frequently x rays are needed.

We recommend each new patient getting a full mouth series of dental x rays, which is usually good for three to five years. Other x rays, like bitewing x rays are usually taken at your recall visits, and are recommended to be done once or twice a year, depending on the condition of your dental health.

Dental X Rays For Children

Because the teeth and jaws of children need to develop correctly to avoid serious health complications down the road, they may need dental x rays more often than your average adult. Improper development of a child’s jaw and teeth such as TMJ disorders (related to the temporomandibular joint),  enamel hypoplasia, and tooth discoloration can result in costly medical expenses that can be avoided by regular and routine visits to the dentist.

The amount of radiation in a dental x ray is considered safe for a child. As children’s jaws and teeth are continuously changing, it’s important to keep an eye on their development. These x rays perform many important purposes for young patients. They help dentists to:

  • Make sure the mouth is large enough to accommodate incoming teeth
  • Monitor the development of wisdom teeth
  • Determine whether primary teeth are loosening properly to accommodate new permanent teeth
  • Identify decay and gum disease early

It’s important for children to get x rays as recommended by their pediatric dentist on a routine basis. The exact schedule for these x rays will vary depending on the child’s individual needs.

Dental X Rays During Pregnancy

Pregnant women, it’s important to tell your dentist if you are or may be pregnant.

However, there are some instances where pregnant women should still have dental x rays performed. If you have a dental emergency or are in the middle of a dental treatment plan, you may still need x rays during your pregnancy. Discuss the issue with your dentist to determine the best way to proceed. It’s crucial that you balance both your dental and prenatal health. Women with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, so you shouldn’t neglect your teeth during pregnancy.

Your dentist can take greater precautions, such as using a leaded apron and thyroid collar, for all x rays taken during your pregnancy if the procedure is deemed necessary. Keeping your pregnancy if the procedure is deemed necessary. Keeping your dentist informed at all times is the best way to proceed.

Dental X Rays While Breastfeeding

It is completely safe for a breastfeeding mother to get any kind of x ray, including dental x rays. Your developing child will not be harmed by x rays’ radiation, but a few living cells in the breast milk itself may be killed off which is normal.

Schedule Your Dental X Ray Consultation Today

When it comes to your teeth, you want someone you can trust.  Dr. Rebecca Schmorr is a board-certified, licensed general and cosmetic Raleigh dentist.  Fill out the form below or call us today to schedule your composite fillings consultation and appointment today.