Digital x-rays are an important tool that dentists use to evaluate patients’ oral health. They may be used to check for growth and development in children, cavities or infections, evaluate the health of the bone, and check for possible concerns such as cysts or cancers.
Dental x-rays are typically performed yearly, unless your dentist is tracking a problem or treatment. We recommend that new patients have x-rays taken in order to establish a clear picture of their dental health, especially after a lapse in dental treatment or lack of x-rays from a previous dental office. Children also may need to have x-rays taken more often in order to monitor the growth of their teeth. This enables their dentist to prevent complications and ensure their adult teeth are developing in healthy ways.
There is very little risk in dental x-rays, which use low levels of radiation that are safe for both children and adults. We utilize high-speed digital x-rays instead of film and lead aprons to cover vital organs in order to limit the radiation exposure even further.
Preparing for your dental x-ray is easy. We just ask that you brush your teeth before your appointment in order to ensure a hygienic environment for staff working inside your mouth, since x-rays are typically performed before cleanings. Then, you’ll simply sit in a chair with a lead vest on while the x-ray machine records images. Your dental hygienist will guide you through each step of the x-ray process, which may include placing spacers in your mouth to get certain x-ray shots. You’ll be instructed to hold still as each image is recorded.
Depending on the purpose of your x-rays, whether they are general or targeted to a specific condition, we record different views of your mouth. The most common are bitewing, occlusal and panoramic views. Bitewing x-rays are performed in order to check for cavities between teeth and observe how crowns match up, and are taken while the patient is biting down on a special piece of paper. Occlusal x-rays are performed to evaluate how your upper and bottom teeth line up, as well as detecting abnormalities with the floor of the mouth or palate. Panoramic x-rays are captured by rotating the x-ray machine around your head, and are utilized in checking wisdom teeth, planning for implanted dental devices, or investigating jaw problems.