Are you due for a checkup at your dentist, but you're a bit nervous about getting x-rays? It will help to know the following things about them to feel more at ease.
Why Are X-Rays Necessary?
As much as you think your dentist is able to see everything during a dental exam, they really can only see what is happening on the surface of your teeth. Those x-rays help your dentist see inside the tooth so they can identify cavities early on and help prevent small problems from turning into big problems.
What Are The Types Of X-Rays?
There are two types of dental x-rays, extraoral and intraoral. Extraoral x-rays are those full-mouth scans where you stand in place and the machine rotates around your head. This allows the dentist to get a panoramic view of your mouth, which will allow them to see a view of your mouth and all bone tissue at once. Intraoral x-rays are those that involve placing a sensor in your mouth, and they can show both the upper and lower teeth from the chewing surface to the tip of each root.
When Are X-Rays Taken?
It is common for dentists to not take x-rays during every single visit unless they are specifically monitoring your oral health for a known problem. Annual bite-wing-style x-rays are more common, and full-mouth x-rays will be taken even less often than that. If you are coming in for an emergency, such as pain due to a cracked tooth, a dentist is going to want to take an x-ray to see what's happening inside the tooth.
Are Dental X-Rays Safe?
Anytime radiation is used to take an x-ray, the benefits will be weighed against the risks. Thankfully, a dental x-ray requires very little radiation compared to those that are used for the chest and other parts of the body. It is likely that you are exposed to more radiation in a year from eating bananas than you are from the radiation necessary to take your dental x-rays.
Do You Have To Get X-Rays Taken?
Your dentist is not going to require you to have dental x-rays taken during your visit, but they will likely highly recommend it and explain to you all the benefits. Keep in mind that x-rays are designed to see what your dentist cannot see, and you could discover cavities that were missed that would have easily been caught with an x-ray.