A Guide to Dental X-Rays
While the majority of people are likely to have undergone a medical X-ray on a particular part of their body following a trip or a fall, fewer will have experienced this in order to check the health of their teeth and mouth.
Carried out by dentists and hospital staff, these examinations provide valuable information that helps evaluate the overall oral health of the patient. And now, with the help of radiographs a member of staff can look what is happening beneath the surface of the pearly whites and gum tissue using the pictures taken with X-rays.
Those people who feel worried about the prospect of undergoing this procedure are urged to talk to their administrator for peace of mind, as a short chat will ensure they realise there is nothing to be anxious about.
How do dental X-rays work?
When X-rays pass through the mouth, they are mostly absorbed by the teeth and bone because these hard tissues are denser than cheeks and gums, creating an image of what can be found in the difficult to reach areas of the mouth.
A radiograph picture is created when the X-ray strikes the film or a digital sensor – allowing dental professionals get a closer view of hidden abnormalities including tooth decay, gum disease and any early signs of infection.
In addition, seemingly unnoticeable problems such as changes in the bone and ligaments that hold the pearly whites in place can also be spotted early using this course of action.
Should I have regular dental X-rays?
How often radiographs are carried out usually depends on a number of factors including overall oral health, age, risk of infection and any signs of oral disease.
Usually, children require X-rays more often than their adult counterparts because their teeth and jaws are still developing at this stage, while their teeth are more likely to be affected by tooth decay than those of adults.
Before the procedure is carried out, a dentist will review the medical history of the patient, as well as examine their mouth and decide whether or not they require this course of action.
Individuals who are visiting a new dental clinic for the first time may undergo radiographs so the new practitioner can examine the status of their oral health, while helping to identify any changes that could occur later.
A new set of X-rays may be needed to help dentists detect emerging cavities, investigate the quality of gum tissue or evaluate the growth and development of the pearly whites.
Patients should ask both old and new professionals to help with forwarding the documents if any have been taken recently.
What are the benefits of a dental X-ray?
Due to the fact diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissues can not be seen by the naked eye, a dental radiograph examination can help reveal a number of issues:
- Infections of the bone
- Gum disease
- Small areas of decay between the teeth or existing restorations
- Abscesses or cysts
- Developmental abnormalities
- Some types of tumour
Locating and treating oral health issues at an early stage can save money, time and unnecessary pain or discomfort, while radiographs can help a dentist detect issues that otherwise may not have been seen and resulted in the development of more severe problems.
How do X-rays compare to other radiation sources?
While some patients may be worried about their exposure to radiation during a dental health X-ray, it is vital for them to realise the substance is only administered in extremely small amounts and is considerably less to daily exposure to things including cosmic radiation and naturally occurring radioactive elements.
What if I am pregnant?
In some cases, a dental radiograph may be needed for urgent treatment that cannot wait until after the baby is born. Because untreated infections can pose a risk to the child, some procedures may be necessary to ensure the health of both mother and offspring.
While radiation exposure from dental X-rays is extremely low, every precaution is taken to make sure that exposure is as low as possible. This includes wearing a leaded apron, which limits its effect on the abdomen and should be used when any dental radiograph is taken.
In addition, a special thyroid collar can protect this area from contamination and should be utilised whenever possible. This is also recommended for all women of childbearing age, expectant mothers and children.
The procedure does not need to be delayed if individuals are trying to become pregnant or are breast feeding, which could provide peace of mind for those women who were previously worried about the effect certain treatment could have on their body.