X-rays, also referred to as radiographs, are a common component of a healthy dental care regimen. While x-rays are generally used for diagnostic purposes, such as searching for cavities, they can also be used as a preventative measure to detect potential oral health issues before they become a problem. The two main x-ray types include intraoral and extraoral. With intraoral x-rays, pictures are taken inside the mouth. With extraoral x-rays, pictures are taken outside the mouth.
While dental x-rays are most commonly used to find tooth decay or cavities, they also have many other uses. X-rays can be used to examine tooth roots and to check the health of the bony areas surrounding the teeth. In children and teens, x-rays can help see the development of teeth as well as determine if a patient has periodontal disease. X-rays are also used to monitor a patient’s overall dental health.
Dental x-rays are generally performed on a yearly basis or more often if you are having regular dental work done. How often you need x-rays will usually depend on your age, oral health, symptoms, and history of tooth decay and gum disease. There is no special preparation for dental x-rays. Simply brush your teeth before your appointment.
During the x-ray, you’ll sit in the dental chair with a lead vest draped across your chest and lap. Dr. Yu or our dental hygienist will position the x-ray machine alongside your head to take images of your mouth. Another type of x-ray, referred to as a bitewing, requires that you bite down on a device that shows your bite and any interdental cavities.
When your images are ready (which is usually instant in the case of digital x-rays), they’ll be reviewed to determine if there is any decay or other abnormalities. If any problems are found, the best treatment plan will be presented. If no problems are found, we will continue on with your appointment.