What are Dental X-Rays?
Dentists and other dental care professionals use dental x-rays to take pictures of the bones, teeth and the tissues surrounding them to detect issues that they are unable to see with a visual examination. The pictures can be used to find a wide range of problems with the mouth, teeth, and jaw, such as:
- Bone loss
- Abscesses or cysts
- Dental injuries, like cracked or broken teeth roots
- Dental structures not visible to the naked eye, like impacted teeth
Dental X-rays can also be used to help create tailored plan dental treatments and to assist with extensive, invasive surgeries. Dentists may also use the procedure review the results of dental treatments.
How Often Should You Get Dental X-Rays?
The frequency with which you get a dental X-ray will typically depend on your current oral health and your dental and medical histories. However, dentists typically recommend getting a bitewing X-ray, which shows your lower and back teeth at the same time, at least once a year. A more extensive type of X-ray, the full mouth series, or FMX, should be taken every three years.
When Do You Need More X-Rays?
There may be situations that require you to get a dental X-ray more frequently. Your dentist may use an X-ray to determine what condition is causing you pain or if there is a suspicion or concern about your oral health that has to be verified. Some of the factors that can require more frequent X-rays include:
- Age: Because their teeth and jaws are still in development, children tend to require X-rays more frequently than adults. Their small teeth are also a factor as decay can damage their teeth and spread much quicker.
- Significant Restorative Dental Work: If you have had extensive dental work, like fillings, crowns or implants, X-rays are needed to determine if decay is forming beneath treatments.
- Periodontal Disease: People with gum disease may be prone to bone loss, which can be monitored with X-rays.
- General health. The state of your overall health may make you more likely to develop cavities and gum disease. For example, if you have diabetes, your dentist may recommend more X-rays to detect any signs of gum disease, which is linked to diabetes.
- Medications: Certain medications can cause dry mouth, which can make it easier for bacteria to attack your teeth. There are others that can weaken your bones, which will compromise the health of your teeth. If you are take medications strictly to address an oral health issue, additional X-rays may also be necessary.
- Cancer Treatment: Because of the effects, radiation and chemotherapies can have on your bones; your dentist may suggest more X-rays to determine if your teeth and nearby bones are being negatively impacted.
Dental X-rays are an important part of achieving and maintaining healthy teeth and gums. By allowing your dentist to see what is happening under the surface of your teeth, signs of pending oral health issues can be detected early, which can lead to prevention or early treatment.