X-rays, also known as radiographs, are an essential part of any dental care treatment plan. They are diagnostic, but they can also be preventative, by helping a dentist diagnose potential oral care issues in a patient’s mouth before they become a major problem. An x-ray is a type of energy that passes through soft tissues and is absorbed by dense tissue. Teeth and bone are very dense, so they absorb X-rays, while X-rays pass more easily through gums and cheeks.
X-rays are divided into two main categories, intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral is an X-ray that is taken inside the mouth. An extraoral X-ray is taken outside of the mouth.
Intraoral via Digital Radiography
Digital radiography — The use of digital X-rays reduces radiation by as much as 80%. Today more dentists are using this type of X-ray. It's estimated that as many as one-third to one-half of U.S. dentists use this technology.
Intraoral X-rays are the most common type of radiograph taken in dentistry. They give a high level of detail of the tooth, bone and supporting tissues of the mouth.
These X-rays allow dentists to:
The benefits of X-rays are well known: They help dentists diagnose common problems, such as cavities, gum disease and some types of infections. Radiographs allow dentists to see inside a tooth and beneath the gums to assess the health of the bone and supporting tissues that hold teeth in place.
There are a number of X-rays a dental professional can order. The type of X-ray needed will depend greatly on the type of care the patient needs to receive.
Here are some of the most common types of X-rays performed:
Provides a view of the entire tooth, from the crown to the bone that helps to support the tooth.
Offers a visual of both the lower and upper posterior teeth. This type of X-ray shows the dentist how these teeth touch one another (or occlude) and helps to determine if decay is present between back teeth.
Full Mouth Series
Is a combination of both Periapical and Bite-wing X-rays that normally consist of 16 total films and is typically taken at a new patient’s first appointment.
Shows a view of the teeth, jaws, nasal area, sinuses and the joints of the jaw, and is usually taken when a patient may need orthodontic treatment or implant placement.