Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you need regular dental x-rays?
Tooth decay can be sneaky – it doesn’t tend to show physical signs of its presence or pain early on.
When your dentists perform an examination, they are limited to what they can see in your mouth – they can only see the part of the tooth that sits above the gum. Even then, dentists cannot see clearly between teeth where they touch.
X-rays help the dentist find and treat dental problems early in their progress, which can potentially save you money, unnecessary discomfort, and pain. So just like other x-rays ordered by medical doctors to check for things like broken bones, dentists use dental x-rays to help see inside your teeth and the parts that sit below the gums and in the surrounding bone.
What Problems Can Dental X-Rays Detect?
Decay that may not be visible with a standard exam, especially small areas of decay between teeth
Identify decay occurring under an existing filling
Reveal an abscess from an infected toothFor adults
- Reveal bone loss that accompanies gum disease
- Reveal changes in the bone or in the root canal resulting from infection
- Assist in the preparation of tooth implants, braces, dentures, or other dental procedures
- Determine if there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth
- Determine if primary teeth are being lost quickly enough to allow permanent teeth to come in properly
- Check for the development of wisdom teeth and identify if the teeth are impacted
How Often Should Teeth Be X-Rayed?
The frequency of getting X-rays of your teeth often depends on your medical and dental history and current condition. Some people may need X-rays as often as every six months; others with no recent dental or gum disease and who visit their dentist regularly may get X-rays only every couple of years
Are X-Rays safe?
Regardless of whether you’re a child or an adult, you can have dental X-rays safely taken inside and outside of your mouth. The amount of radiation involved is extremely low, and is equivalent to the sort of exposure you’d receive on a 1-2 hour flight. This means that even if you’re pregnant you can have X-rays taken, although they are generally kept to a minimum during this period.
So why does your dentist leaving the room while the X-rays are taken?
Nothing to worry about there – they’re taking lots of X-rays all day long and stepping out of the room limits their ongoing exposure to radiation.