Dental radiographs (x-rays) are essential and preventative diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam.  Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan.  Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.

Dental x-rays may reveal:

  • Abscesses or cysts
  • Bone loss
  • Cancerous and noncancerous tumors
  • Decay between the teeth
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Poor tooth and root positions
  • Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line

Detecting and treating any of these dental problems at an early stage can save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth! Dental x-rays help us find the problems before they become something more serious.

Are dental x-rays safe?

We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment.  The amount of radiation exposure from a full mouth series of x-rays is equal to the amount a person receives in a single day from natural sources.

Dental x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered safe.  Dentists take necessary precautions to limit the patient’s exposure to radiation when taking dental x-rays.  These precautions include using lead apron shields to protect the body and using modern, fast film that cuts down the exposure time of each x-ray.

How often should dental x-rays be taken?

The need for dental x-rays depends on each patient’s individual dental health needs.  Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based on the review of your medical and dental history, dental exam, signs and symptoms, age consideration, and risk for disease.

A full mouth series of dental x-rays is recommended for new patients.  A full series is usually good for three to five years.

Bite-wing x-rays (x-rays of top and bottom teeth biting together) are taken at recall (check-up) visits and are recommended once or twice a year to detect new dental problems.

If you haven’t gotten dental x-rays for some time, now would be a good time to schedule an appointment, finding problems through x-rays can help your teeth get the treatment they need to stay healthy and beautiful.