dental x-rays

Answering Your Questions About Dental X-Rays

Answering Your Questions About Dental X-Rays

If you’ve never had an X-ray at the dentist, you probably have a lot of questions. X-rays are a routine procedure, done quickly and painlessly at dental offices every day. At Lifetime Family Dental, we are here to teach you all about dental X-rays.

How Long Have Dental X-rays Been Used?

Here’s something you probably didn’t know: dental X-rays have been around since the 19th century. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, a Nobel Prize-winning German physicist, introduced the x-ray to the medical world in the 1890s

Medical scientists around the world spent the next sixty years developing and testing the X-ray. By 1955, it had become a fully-integrated part of everyday dentistry. Today, various models of the X-ray exist, and new ones enter the market constantly. 

How do dental X-rays work?

The X-ray was so groundbreaking because it has the ability to see things that the naked eye cannot. When you’re given an X-ray, the camera takes images of your mouth from teeth to gums to bones. Any abnormalities are immediately identified by a dentist or radiologist. And because the device gets such a broad view of the mouth, dentists can use it to find the source of the problem, as well. 

Types of Dental X-rays

  • Intraoral X-rays are done on a smaller scale, closing in on a smaller area of the mouth. Dentists place a small stick with film attached inside your mouth. 
  • Extraoral X-rays are taken from outside the mouth. They’re often performed in order to identify jaw or alignment problems. 

Each type of X-ray involves a piece of film that takes radiographs (pictures) of your mouth. The pictures are captured by powerful rays of light that can pick up much more detail than the human eye can. The images it captures are displayed on a computer screen for your dentist to review.

When will I need dental X-rays?

Your dentist will likely take X-rays if you are a new patient to establish a baseline. After that, if you have relatively healthy teeth, you will likely only need X-rays every few years. If you have underlying dental conditions, such as gum disease, you may need them more frequently. Some patients may need them as often as every six months. 

What are dental X-rays used for?

  • Gum disease treatment. The most effective treatment for periodontal disease is scaling and root planing. Before the procedure, your dentist will need to get a thorough view of your gums.
  • Cavities. If a certain tooth is giving you trouble, your dentist may use an X-ray to look for decay.  
  • Tooth abscesses. An abscessed tooth is normally treated with either root canal or extraction. Either way, an X-ray is essential. 
  • Fractures. Broken or damaged teeth aren’t always visible. A dentist will often need help seeing where the fracture lies.

Are they safe?

You may have concerns about radiation being harmful. While it is in extreme cases, the radiation used in X-rays is extremely minimal, posing almost no risk to the average patient. That’s why dentists can use them safely for most patients, including kids and pregnant women.

Do they hurt?

Dental X-rays are not painful. At the very most, the plastic piece fitted inside your mouth may be mildly uncomfortable. But the procedure will be over quickly. Despite any mild discomfort, the whole process is necessary to identify issues in your mouth.

Your Local Dentist in Gilbert

At Lifetime Family Dental, we are proud to provide you and your family with top-notch dental care, whether dental X-rays are needed or not. If it’s been six months or longer since your last exam, give us a call today.

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