When Dental X-Rays are Needed

Dr.Alan Wishneff Boca Raton Florida Dentist Dr. Alan Wishneff D.D.S.
Restorative Dentistry / Oral Health
June 22, 2017

Dental x-rays are used to help dentists spot diseases and problems in the teeth and the surrounding tissue that cannot be seen with a regular oral exam. When reviewing x-ray results, the dentist will be able to find and treat dental problems early on in their X- ray with ear ringdevelopment, before they can get out of hand. This can help save you a lot of money, unnecessary discomfort and even your life.

Problems X-Rays can Detect

In adults x-rays can be used to:

  • Shows the areas of tooth decay that can’t be seen with a normal exam, especially in small areas between the teeth.
  • Finds decay that has occurred underneath an existing filling.
  • Reveals bone loss that occurs as a result of gum disease.
  • Looks for changes in the bone or in the root canal resulting from infection.
  • Helps to assist in preparation of dental implants, braces, dentures and other dental procedures.
  • Reveals infections at the root of a tooth or between the gum and tooth.
  • Find other developmental abnormalities, like a cyst and some types of tumors.

In children dental x-rays are used to:

  • Keep an eye out for decay.
  • See if there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth.
  • Determine if primary teeth are being lost quickly enough to allow permanent teeth to come in properly.
  • Check the development of wisdom teeth and to identify any potential problems with them coming in.

How often should the mouth be X-rayed?

The amount of dental x-rays that one needs depends on their medical and dental condition. Someone who has many dental problems may need to get x-rays every six months to check on their condition. On the other hand, someone who has no recent dental or gum disease and visits their dentist regularly may only need x-rays every couple of years. New patients to a dentist will probably need a new set of x-rays taken as part of their initial exam. This helps to establish a baseline record from which dentists can compare changes to.

There is a group of people that fall into the high risk category who may need x-rays taken more frequently. They include:

  • Children – Children generally get more x-rays then adults because their teeth and jaws are still developing and constantly changing. Their teeth are also more likely to be affected by tooth decay.
  • Adults with extensive restorative work – People with fillings and other work need x-rays to look for decay beneath the existing fillings or in new locations.
  • People with periodontal disease need to be monitored for bone loss.
  • People with dry mouth (xerostomia) – Conditions of dry mouth can lead to the development of cavities.
  • Smokers are at an increased risk of periodontal disease and x-rays are needed to monitor bone loss.

Are X-Rays Safe?

Exposure to any source of radiation can cause damage to the body’s tissues and cells that could, in some cases, lead to cancer. However, x-rays are not the only source of radiation. Radiation can also be found in the sun, minerals in soil and appliances in your home. The dose of radiation when exposed to during dental x-rays is extremely small.

Over the years there have been advances in dentistry that has led to a number of measures that will minimize the risks associated with x-rays. And dentist and hygienist take all precautions to protect their patient when x-rays are taken. But like most radiation effects, they can accumulate throughout a life time. If you are concerned about radiation exposure, talk to your dentist about how often x-rays are needed. Dentists only want to use them when necessary, so if you think you might not need one, just ask.

For more information about this topic or any other dental topic, contact Dr.Wishneff  at [email protected]  or call (561) 488-3111Dr. Alan Wishneff is a Boca Raton Dentist dedicated to bringing patients state-of-the-art dental care. As a cosmetic, family and restorative dentist, he helps patients enjoy a natural and healthy smile. He is trained in cosmetic dentistry, including porcelain veneers; advanced cosmetic bonding techniques; oral surgery; medical emergency procedures; advanced crown and bridge; advanced TMJ; implant dentistry; endodontics-root canals: utilization of most advanced dental materials. Dr, Wishneff and staff are dedicated to providing great smiles in Boca Raton for more than 30 years. After more than two decades of practicing dentistry in Boca Raton, Dr. Wishneff is more committed than ever to this community.

Image: By Sérgio Valle Duarte (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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