Why Do Dentists Use X-rays?

Why Do Dentists Use X-rays?

You know that when you go to the emergency room with a broken bone, the doctors will want to take X-rays of the injury. Other healthcare professionals, however, use X-rays for various purposes, and your neighborhood dentist is one of them. A dental X-ray can identify fractures in the jaw and teeth, but it also provides your dentist with other useful information. Tooth Alignment Teeth serve you best when they are properly aligned. Misaligned teeth can cause difficulty when chewing, speaking, and smiling for the camera, and an X-ray tells the dentist exactly where the problem lies. Decay Dentists are observational experts, but even they cannot see through skin and bone. Dental X-rays reveal translucency in the dentin of the tooth, which is the material located just beneath the enamel, or outer shell. In the X-ray, cavities will appear darker than the surrounding tissue, so dentists can find decay that isn’t visible with an exterior examination. Root and Bone Damage The teeth themselves aren’t the only things dentists look...

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Types of Dental X-rays

Types of Dental X-rays

Dentists use two types of X-rays to assess a patient’s oral health: intraoral and extraoral. Each set of X-rays helps the dentist visualize any problems (or developing problems) as well as formulate a treatment plan. Intraoral X-rays Intraoral X-rays allow the dentist to examine individual teeth and how they relate to one another. If the patient has a cavity, an alignment issue, or an abscessed or impacted tooth, the films will show it. Within this broad category, however, dentists use several specific types of images. Bitewing Radiography: When you bite down on a piece of plastic for an X-ray, the dentist is probably taking the bitewings. This form of X-ray captures a perpendicular image of the tooth crowns. It’s used primarily for the back teeth, though bitewings are possible with the fronts. Periapical Radiography: Roots are required to keep teeth in place. Periapical X-rays allow the dentist to visualize the roots and identify any problems. Occlussal Radiography: This last set of X-rays isn’t as common as the others, and...

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X-ray Health Concerns

X-ray Health Concerns

According to the Radiology Society of North America, a set of intraoral X-rays (those taken of the inside of the mouth during a dentist visit) exposes your body to .005 millisieverts of radiation, which is about the same amount as you would get from one normal day of living. In other words, a negligible quantity. Nevertheless, you might worry about the cumulative radiation exposure of years of dentist visits–and you’re not alone. Radiation exposure is a concern faced by anyone who uses a microwave, submits to X-rays, or walks through security at the airport. The question becomes: Do you need to worry about X-ray health concerns? Radiation Protection Your dentist understands the risks of radiation exposure, which is why he or she attempts to shield you from as much of it as possible. Dentists use lead aprons and thyroid shields to reduce exposure during X-rays. A lead apron is a large, heavy apron that rests over your lap, chest, and shoulders, protecting your torso. The thyroid shield provides the...

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