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Have you ever wondered how often you should get dental X-rays? Dental X-rays play a crucial role in maintaining your oral health, but the frequency of these procedures may vary depending on your specific needs. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of dental X-rays, their purpose, and the safety concerns associated with them.
Understanding Dental X-Rays
How are dental X-rays done?
Before taking dental X-rays, a technician will prioritize your safety by placing a lead apron over your chest and may wrap a thyroid collar around your neck. These protective measures minimize your exposure to radiation. Once adequately shielded, you’ll either sit in a chair or stand in front of an X-ray machine. A technician will then place the film or sensor and capture the X-ray image. It’s crucial to hold still during this process for accurate results.
Types of Dental X-Rays
There are two main types of dental X-rays: intraoral and extraoral.
Intraoral X-rays involve placing the film or sensor inside your mouth. There are different types of intraoral X-rays that serve various purposes:
- Bitewing X-rays allow dentists to detect decay between your teeth or any changes below your gum line. However, they usually don’t show the roots of your teeth.
- Periapical X-rays provide a comprehensive view of your entire tooth, from crown to root tip. These X-rays help identify decay, gum disease, bone loss, and abnormalities in your tooth or surrounding bone.
- Occlusal X-rays capture the floor or roof of your mouth, aiding in the diagnosis of fractured or impacted teeth, evaluating the roots of your front teeth, and identifying cysts, abscesses, and jaw fractures. Pediatric dentists also utilize occlusal X-rays to assess developing teeth.
Extraoral X-rays involve placing the film or sensor outside your mouth and offer a broader view of your oral structures. Here are a few types of extraoral X-rays:
- Panoramic X-rays provide a comprehensive overview of your mouth’s structures, including your teeth, jaw joints, nerves, sinuses, and supporting bone. They help dentists identify any existing oral health issues.
- Cephalometric X-rays capture your entire head from the side and enable dentists to assess the positioning of your teeth in relation to your jaw. Orthodontists often rely on cephalometric X-rays for treatment planning.
- Cone beam CT scans use computed tomography (CT) technology to create 3D dental X-rays. These scans provide detailed images of your teeth, jaws, joints, nerves, sinuses, and even detect tumors or facial fractures. Surgeons primarily utilize dental CT scans to assess the jawbone before dental implant placements.
You might be wondering, are dental X-rays safe? The radiation risk associated with dental X-rays is minimal. In fact, the amount of radiation you receive from a full set of dental X-rays is comparable to what you absorb from everyday sources like TVs, smartphones, computers, ceramic floor tiles, granite countertops, and even background radiation from the sun, stars, and the Earth itself.
However, it’s essential to avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation. While the risk is quite low, extremely high doses of radiation from dental X-rays could potentially be harmful and increase your cancer risk. Therefore, it’s crucial to discuss with your healthcare provider how often you should undergo X-rays, ensuring the benefits outweigh the risks.
To maintain optimal oral health, regular dental check-ups and X-rays are key. By staying proactive and adhering to your dentist’s recommendations, you can ensure your smile remains healthy and bright for years to come.
Remember: Your oral health is our priority! For more information and dental care tips, visit Make You Smile today.