Dental X-Rays are an essential diagnostic tool for dental professionals. They are crucial in helping the dentist to formulate your treatment plan.  Here are answers to some common questions and concerns that you may have about dental x-rays.

What are dental X-rays?

Dental x-rays, also called radiographs, 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.

Dental X-rays are either 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.

Are Digital X-Rays Better?

Lancaster Dental uses digital radiography only.  We believe it has many advantages over film. First and foremost, digital X-rays require less radiation exposure (approximately 50-80% less than film); this makes them safer for our clients and our staff.  They are faster, and the image can be enhanced and transferred easily if needed.

Why do I need Dental X- rays?

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. The dentist will be able to see things that they can’t see with a visual examination.  Without dental x-rays the dentist cannot make an accurate diagnosis and complete treatment plan.

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 result in 0.005 mSv 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 with a thyroid collar is used while the x-rays are taken. This minimizes the exposure to your vital organs and thyroid.

How often should I have dental x-rays?

There is no easy answer to this question as it depends on many different factors.  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. Dental X-rays should only be taken when necessary.  People with dental issues such as cavities, missing teeth, infections, gum disease and jaw issues may require more frequent x-rays.  At Lancaster Dental, 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 say “NO” to dental X-ray?

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 may be not visible clinically may be present and 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. In some cases, the dentist may need to refuse to treat you if they don’t have a specific image as they would be unable to provide safe treatment.

At Lancaster Dental, we strive to provide you with the best possible treatment and provide safe and quality care.  If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is no way to offer a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation.  Any advice provided is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.