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All About Dental Xrays

To properly and thoroughly examine your teeth and jaw, your dentist must do more than simply inspect your mouth. Typically, he or she must utilize x-ray technology to get a full picture of your oral health Why is this necessary? What is the benefit? And are there any health implications for you as a patient? Here is a primer on your dentist’s use of x-rays as part of your dental treatment plan.

What are x-rays?

Your dentist will utilize an x-ray machine to take pictures through your lips and gums. He or she will likely want to take these pictures of your whole mouth, from one corner of your jaw across to the other.

Why does my dentist feel the need to take these x-rays?

Examining your open mouth can only tell your dentist so much about your dental situation. X-rays not only provide a clean, unobstructed view of your teeth and jaw line – they also provide your dentist with a view of some areas he or she couldn’t normally see. X-rays will show your dentist inside the tooth – the root, the nerves, etc. – to get an idea of the structural health of the teeth. Also, the areas between teeth – where infection often breeds from trapped food particles – are much more easily seen with an x-ray machine than the naked eye. Your dentist can also check up easier on your fillings with an x-ray, as he or she is able to better see decay or damage to the filling itself.

There are further, more serious benefits to dental x-rays as well. Your dentist can use x-rays to help screen for oral cancer, cysts, or structural problems with the jawline, such as misaligned or improperly growing teeth. X-rays are a great way to check for and root out potential dental problems in quick and easy fashion.

Is x-ray (radiation) technology dangerous to my health?

Generally, no. Dental x-rays are captured using extremely low levels of radiation; there’s no real concern for the health of an adult receiving the radiation. Dentists extend the safety of x-rays by typically offering lead shields to drape over the rest of the patient’s body; this prevents radiation from seeping into the body anywhere but the mouth.

While x-rays are normally quite safe, however, be sure to inform your doctor if you are pregnant. While the small, controlled dose of radiation is unlikely to present a problem, it is typically best to avoid all exposure to dangerous materials. Barring a dental emergency, your dentist will likely be willing to skip x-rays during pregnancy at your request. 09

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