Your dentist is able to check for signs of dental problems by looking at your teeth and gums, but some problems might be hidden from sight. Dental x-rays help dentists detect problems with teeth, gums and jaws that could otherwise go unnoticed.
Examining dental x-rays allows dentists to check for signs of dental problems and determine the most effective form of treatment. Here’s a closer look at the different ways in which dental x-rays help determine oral health.
Decay and damage
X-rays help dentists discover tooth decay, bone loss, broken roots and other dental problems that are usually hidden. With the use of x-rays, dentists have a better chance of detecting these problems at an early stage, which helps reduce the risk of complications or the development of more serious issues.
Dentists can use x-rays to look for abnormal growths in the mouth and jaw, such as tumours and cysts. They can also be used to look for lesions and other possible signs of oral cancer. Abscesses, which require prompt treatment to lower the risk of infection, can also be diagnosed with the help of x-rays.
X-rays can show dentists that teeth are impacted, which might require the removal of one or more teeth. Impacted teeth are teeth that have no room to come through the gums. This often occurs with wisdom teeth, resulting in the need to have them removed.
Dentists can check dental x-rays to see where a child’s permanent teeth are and how they’re growing before they break through the gums. These x-rays are typically done on young children who still have their baby teeth in order to determine how many permanent teeth there are and whether any are missing.
Root canals, orthodontic treatments, periodontal treatments, dental implants, and other dental procedures require the use of x-rays prior to and/or during treatment. These x-rays help dentists determine the best course of treatment.
Types of x-rays
Dentists use several different types of dental x-rays, including the following:
- Bitewing – which enables a view of the back teeth and is used to assess tooth decay, tooth alignment, gum disease, bone loss and infections
- Occlusal – which provides a view of the floor and roof of the mouth and is used to see teeth below the gums and to assess decay, extra teeth, abnormal growths, impacted teeth and abscesses
- Periapical – which shows the whole tooth, including the roots and the bones around the tooth to enable dentists to see growths, impacted teeth and abscesses
- Orthopantomograph (OPG) – which provides a wide, panoramic type view of the entire mouth area, including the jaw joints and the nasal area, so that dentists can check for growths, infections, bone problems, impacted teeth and fractures
- Computer Tomography (CT) scans: a cutting-edge x-ray that provides a three-dimensional view of the jaws and teeth and allows dentists to plan more complex treatments such as dental implants and root canal
During your next appointment, we can discuss how often you should have dental x-rays taken in order to maintain good oral health.