If you ever visited the dentist you likely had dental x-rays taken or recommended.  Dental x-rays, also called radiographs, are an essential diagnostic tool that helps your dentist formulate a dental treatment plan. To help you fully understand their importance, Dr. Boeriu and his team answered some of your most common questions.

What are dental X-rays?

Dental x-rays are basically two-dimensional images that show the tooth anatomy and bone in your mouth.  There are two basic types of dental X-rays: film and digital.  Digital radiography uses an X-ray sensor instead of film to produce the image. Digital X-rays require less radiation exposure (approximately 50-80% less than film), are faster, and typically result in better image quality. This is why Dr. Boeriu’s office only uses digital x-ray technology.

Dental X-rays are ether intraoral (inside the mouth) or extraoral (outside the mouth). The most common intraoral x-rays are Periapical and Bitewings. They show the fine details of the teeth and the bone structure around them. The most common extraoral x-ray is called Panoramic and it is an image of the entire oral cavity, including the teeth, jawbones, and sinus areas.

Why do I need them?

Like we said before, dental x-rays are a diagnostic tool and help the dentist to make a proper diagnosis.  They are used to evaluate the existence and extent of potential cavities (especially in between the teeth or under existing restorations), condition of present dental work,  check tooth development, assess root health (presence of infection), check bone health, impacted teeth, joint health, fractures, and presence of cysts and tumours, jaw development. Without dental x-rays, the dentist can not make an accurate diagnosis and complete treatment plan.

How often should I have dental x-rays?

Dental X-rays should only be taken when necessary.  There is no easy answer to this question as it depends on many different variables.  Some of these include the present state of your oral health and your dental treatment history, your age, presenting complaints, and risk factors for various conditions. People with dental issues such as cavities, missing teeth, infections, gum disease and jaw issues may require more frequent x-rays.  At Dr. Boeriu’s dental practice, we make sure that radiographs are taken on a case-by-case basis to ensure you are getting the best quality dental care possible.

What happens if I refuse?

You always have the right to decline x-rays. However, having said that, this may put your oral health and even your general health at risk.  Problems that might be not visible clinically may be present, yet they can go undiagnosed. These problems can get worse over time and become more challenging to treat and, in some cases, may lead to tooth loss and even threaten your overall health.

Are dental x-rays safe?

Dental X-rays are considered very safe.  Digital dental x-rays have a very low dose of radiation.  According to the American Dental Association (ADA) 4 digital bitewings results in 0.005 mSv (Millisieverts) of radiation exposure. To put this into perspective, a person is exposed to approximately 0.01 mSv during a 2.5-hour airplane flight.  To further reduce your exposure, a lead apron is used while the x-rays are taken. This minimizes the exposure to your vital organs and thyroid (if a lead collar is used).

Your oral health is our primary concern.  We strive to provide you with the best possible treatment and dental x-rays are a very important diagnostic tool we use to provide safe and quality care.  If you have any concerns or questions, be sure to contact our office and we will be happy to help.