Are X-Rays Important to Your Dental Health?

cosmetic_dentistAre you worried about getting dental X-rays because of the radiation? If you balance the necessity of x-rays with your concern about radiation, you’ll discover that dental x-rays can be a good choice.

Radiation is measured in units called rems. Dental radiation is measured in millirems. (One millirem is one one-thousandths of a rem). According to the American Nuclear Society, each year, you are exposed to about 620 millirems from background radiation—the radiation that exists naturally in the earth, from outer space, even in tiny amounts in the food we eat.

A bitewing dental x-ray exposes you to about half a mrem.

Bitewing x-rays show the upper and lower back teeth and how they touch each other. The x-rays show how the teeth work with each other and the spaces between the teeth. A bitewing x-ray can show gum damage, dental decay, and periodontal disease as well, making it easier to diagnose and treat.

Occlusal x-rays show the roof or the floor of the mouth. They are taken to find jaw fractures, foreign objects, extra teeth and teeth like wisdom teeth before they appear through the gum line.

Periapical X-rays show the entire tooth, from the exposed crown to the end of the root and the bone that support the tooth, says WebMD. They are used to find bone levels, dental decay, abscesses, cysts, tumors or growths. Comparison x-rays show changes in your mouth over time.

Panoramic x-rays are taken from the outside of the head and rotate around your whole head. They are not intended to discover cavities, they are meant to discover abnormalities, from fractured teeth to growths below the gum line. They also give your dentist the ability to diagnose jaw and joint problems.

“Dental x-rays show a dentist what isn’t visible through observation or examination,” says Dr. Ford. “The problems they help solve are serious ones and often ones that can be solved early,” she continues.

X-rays are important procedures, and are well worth the small amount of radiation you are exposed to. Dental offices are careful to protect you and their workers, so you can go ahead with the x-rays. They will keep your smile bright and strong.

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