Dental x-rays are an important aspect of preventative care. They reveal what your dentist cannot see with the naked eye all the way from the cusps of your teeth down to the jaw bone. As a result, regular dental x-rays play a pivotal role in identifying and diagnosing oral health issues that are not immediately visible. Let’s look at the importance of dental x-rays.
How Often Should You Have Dental X-Rays?
You should be going to visit your dentist in San Bernardino every six months for a general dental cleaning and visual inspection. However, you will not have x-rays at every one of these appointments.
The frequency of your x-ray appointments will be determined by your general oral health. If you have not been to the dentist in a while, then your dentist will likely suggest having dental x-rays in San Bernardino to establish a baseline for future care.
The Importance of Dental X-Rays
Once a baseline is established, you can generally expect to have new x-rays once per year. Patients with periodontal disease may have a more frequent schedule, requiring new x-rays every few months. Patients with optimal oral health may only have x-rays every other year.
What Are Dental X-Rays Used For?
You already know that your dentist is using x-rays to see inside your teeth, gums, and bone. However, you may not know what they’re looking for. The reality is that your dentist is trained to detect a lot more than tooth decay.
Dentists are responsible for all aspects of your oral health, and they put their training to work every time you have an x-ray done.
Of course, they are looking for signs of tooth decay on the surface of your teeth as well as in the cracks or behind fillings. They also look for signs of infection, bone loss, cancer, and abscesses.
With the help of your x-rays, your dentist can detect serious health concerns long before they begin to impact you in noticeable ways. In this way, x-rays are vital to early detection, diagnosis, and positive long-term health outcomes.
What Types of Dental X-Rays Are There?
If you have only ever had routine dental x-rays, then you’re probably most familiar with the panoramic x-ray. This approach gives your dentist a view of your whole mouth in one image.
These x-rays are great for looking at your mouth generally, but they do not usually provide the detail that your dentist would need to complete a diagnosis or form a targeted treatment plan.
To achieve those goals, your dentist would use another type of x-ray that takes a closer look at the problem area. There are technically dozens of possibilities, but the primary approaches used are bitewing x-rays and periapical x-rays.
Bitewing x-rays are not creatively named. They are taken by having you bite down on a surface with the film placed parallel to the teeth on the inside of the mouth. This type of x-ray is normally used to detect decay in the back teeth or bicuspids.
Periapical x-rays are even more detailed shots that focus on just one or two teeth for the most in-depth view of the problem area. These are great x-rays for helping your dentist to plan a specific treatment approach affecting a small area.
Risks Associated with Dental X-Rays
If you’re worried about the risks that may be associated with routine dental x-rays, you shouldn’t be. These machines use very small amounts of radiation, and it would only be considered dangerous if you were exposed on a regular basis.
To ensure your safety, your dentist’s office will provide a lead covering to reduce that risk even further. The only caveat is that you should let your office know if you are or could be pregnant. In that case, extra precautions will be taken to protect the vulnerable fetus.
Ultimately, these negligible risks are far outweighed by the monumental importance of dental x-rays and regular preventative dental care.