If your dentist is recommending you to get a dental x-ray every visit, you may wonder why that is. Is it really necessary to have an x-ray done every cleaning? Isn’t that excessive? Here’s what you need to know about dental x-rays and why your dentist would be recommending you have them done every six months.
What Is The Purpose Of Dental X-Rays?
X-rays allow the dentist to see the condition of your teeth, roots, jaw, facial bones. They let them find any non-visible dental problems such as decay, bone loss, tumors, abscesses, whether or not any implants or braces of the like are required. They are a way to locate a problem and be able to start treating it before it becomes a serious issue.
Dental x-rays let a dentist see if you have any cavities, look at the roots of your teeth, check the bones around the teeth, and see if you are developing potential gum disease, as well as monitor the progress of teeth that are still developing. Not all dental problems are visible to the naked eye, which is why your dentist will have you do dental x-rays.
How Many Kinds Are There?
There are several different kinds of dental x-rays, and the kind your dentist will have done on you depends on your oral health. They are divided into two categories: intraoral, where the x-ray film is in your mouth, and extraoral, where it is outside your mouth. Intraoral x-rays are the most common, used to look more so at the teeth and for any issues there. Extraoral x-rays do still show your teeth, but their focus is on your jaw and skull, looking for problems in your jawbones and the like.
Here are some of the types of intraoral and extraoral x-rays:
- Periapical. This shows the entire roots, from top to the bone that supports it.
- Bite-Wing. This shows your back-teeth, how they touch and if there’s decay.
- Occlusal. This shows the bite of the upper or lower jaw, usually done with children to show tooth development.
- Panoramic. This shows the entire mouth, usually done when considering orthodontic treatment.
- Tomograms. These show part of the mouth and blur the rest, to look at areas difficult to see otherwise.
- Sialography. This is when there is a dye injected into the salivary glands to detect problems there.
How Often Do You Need X-Rays?
How often you need dental x-rays is determined on your oral health and your oral history. The American Dental Association recommends that dentists and patients work together in order to come up with the right schedule for you. If you are an adult with a good dental history, then you can probably go a few visits between dental x-rays. However, if your teeth are still developing or if you have a history of dental problems such as cavities, your dentist will recommend more frequent x-rays, such as every six months, in order to closely monitor your dental health and catch any cavities or other such decay
If you are a pregnant person, regular dental x-rays may also be recommended to you, as pregnancy can increase your risk for gum disease and tooth decay. As the amount of radiation used in dental x-rays is very minimal, this is safe both during pregnancy, and for anyone who needs frequent dental x-rays. If you are quite concerned about the radiation levels, however, you can always ask for extra protection in a leaded apron or collar in order to have an extra layer shielding your body from it.
Why Would You Need X-Rays Every 6 Months?
Generally, you will need an x-ray every 6 months, if:
- You are a child, because your teeth are still developing and at higher risk for decay.
- You are an adult who has a history of cavities, who drinks a lot of sugary beverages, or who has dry mouth, as these put you at higher risk for developing more cavities.
- You have gum disease or are a smoker, that puts you at higher risk for gum disease.
Frequent x-rays like this are used to monitor potential cavities, to track changes in developing teeth, and to watch for any issues you are at a high risk for.
Generally, an adult with good oral health needs less frequent x-rays and can go up to three years between x-rays if they have very low risk for decay. A child can also go longer than every six months if they are at very low risk for oral problems.
Do You Have To Get X-Rays?
While dental x-rays may not be the most enjoyable thing, most things we have to do in order to stay healthy are not. However, the temporary discomfort is worth it for the long-term good of our health, and dental x-rays are no different. While you may feel as though they are a bother, they are an essential part of maintaining good oral health.
The health of your teeth affects the health of your entire body. If you have problems in your teeth, it can affect how you talk, how you eat, how you learn, and more. Oral problems aren’t contained to your mouth, but can also manifest other problems elsewhere.
Do You Need To Schedule A Dental Appointment?
Here at Gunnell Family Dentistry, we know how important your oral health is. We understand both how vital x-rays are and how you might be worried about radiation if you need them done frequently. We take all precautions to keep the process safe and to take the best care of your oral health. If you need to schedule a dental appointment or have any questions about dental treatments, please contact us at Gunnell Family Dentistry today!