The Importance of Dental X-Rays during an Examination
Dental x-rays play a significant role in general dentistry and have made it easier for dentists to identify and treat diseases. Nowadays, it has become customary to get an x-ray or radiograph during dental exams.
However, some people are concerned about their health and think the radiation from the x-rays is harmful to their health. In this blog, we will discuss dental x-rays in detail to help you make a knowledgeable decision.
What’s the Purpose of X-rays?
The main purpose of radiographs/ dental x-rays is to diagnose dental infections. The dentist uses the results from the x-rays to identify symptoms of infections, even before they become evident. This helps treat those conditions as early as possible before they become worse and require advanced treatment.
The x-rays provide images from parts of your mouth that the dentist can’t see, creating a vivid picture showing your soft tissues’ differences. The dentist can diagnose or ‘uncover’ gum disease, tooth decay, and other dental conditions early enough with the images.
The dentist is likely to miss potential tooth decay problems if he conducts the exam with his bare eyes. Some studies show that there is an 80 percent chance you will develop a cavity problem if the dentist only conducts visual exams. X-rays also examines the roots, jaw, and other structures in the mouth.
Who can have Radiographs?
If you are visiting a dentist for the first time, it is imperative he conduct an x-ray check to get a clear picture of your dental health. He may ask for your previous set of x-rays for comparison. This is especially more crucial if you are prone to cavities or gum disease.
However, it is worth noting that there are several factors that may affect how often you should get x-ray checks. These factors include:
- Your overall and oral health
- Symptoms of oral disease
- A history of cavities and gum disease
Children are more prone to cavities than adults. Therefore, they may undergo more checks to reduce the risk of developing cavities.
The x-rays tell the dentist when it is necessary to extract some baby teeth to help avoid complications, for example, permanent teeth growing behind the baby teeth.
Does Dental X-rays Pose Any Risks?
While there is some radiation, the level of exposure is considered safe for both adults and children. Studies show that radiographs used in dentistry only represent 2.5 percent of radiography in other medical fields (ADA research). Moreover, your exposure is lower when the dentist uses an x-ray on you than when he uses it to develop an image on film.
It is also worth noting that dentists undergo training on how to handle x-ray, and your vital organs are always protected from unnecessary exposure. You have nothing to worry about radiation exposure from dental x-rays.
However, you should avoid dental x-rays if you are pregnant. Radiation is not safe for a developing fetus. Inform your dentist you are pregnant during the exam, so he doesn’t perform the x-ray on you.
You won’t need any special preparation to get a dental x-ray. The only thing you should do is brush and floss your teeth before leaving for the clinic. That way, you will provide a hygienic environment for the dentist since x-rays are generally conducted before the professional cleaning.
How Often Should One Have X-rays?
Your dentist will advise you on how often you should have x-ray checks depending on your oral health. Kindly listen to your dentist. One x-ray check can prevent potential severe dental conditions.
During the x-ray, the dentist will guide you through each step. He will ask you to hold still as he takes the pictures. After the images are ready, the dentist will review them, checking for any abnormality. You will probably first get the dental cleaning then discuss the results of the x-ray later.
If the images show any problems, such as decay, the dentist will discuss treatment options with you. If there is no problem found, the dentist will give you some oral health tips to help you keep the situation that way.
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