Dental x-rays, the who, the what, and the why?

dental x-ray at Jannali Dental Care

A dental x-ray is one of the most important diagnostic tools in a dentist’s arsenal. And they are safer and simpler than ever before –  quick, painless, and modern x-rays emit very low-radiation. 

And, most importantly, an x-ray allow us to assess a number of dental conditions.  Even though we may have a keen eye and loads of experience, there are still some things that even the very best dentist cannot see with just the naked eye.

What are dental x-rays?

Have you noticed how quickly an x-ray appears on the dentist’s screen?  Modern x-rays are digital and INSTANT.  Pretty amazing technology.

Not only do they allow for immediate viewing and diagnosis, they emit around 30% to 40% less radiation than traditional dental x-rays.

Dental x-rays are used for check-ups (usually every two years) and for diagnostic purposes.  We don’t need to take x-rays at every appointment.

Specialist x-rays like OPG and CBCT (described below), are used when more detailed or specialised imagery is needed.

CBCT

A Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) or Cone Beam Scan, is a precise method of x-ray used to create a 3D image of a patient’s mouth, teeth and jaw. This type of x-ray can be used for root canal, dental implants and gum disease assessment.

OPG

An orthopantomogram (try pronouncing that one!), or OPG, is a specialist x-ray which provides a 360-degree view of the teeth, jawbones, joints and sinuses. This type of x-ray may be required for braces preparation, dental implants, investigating gum disease, wisdom tooth removal or gaining a detailed picture of how a patient’s teeth fit into their jaw.

What are dental x-rays useful for?

Even the most experienced and eagle-eyed dentist can’t spot everything with the naked eye. An x-ray can help detect dental problems which are hidden beneath the surface or establish the extent of an infection.

Decay

If tooth decay is suspected by your dentist an x-ray can confirm its presence and the extent of the decay.

Infections and Abscesses

Abscesses and infections can be detected using dental x-rays. While your dentist may be able to establish that you have an infection during a regular check-up, a dental x-ray will establish the extent of the infection or abscess.

It gives us a much better idea of what is going on in your mouth.

Preparation and progress

Dental x-rays can be used to help prepare and assess the progress of patients for things such as braces, wisdom teeth extraction, dental implants and other cosmetic procedures which require a clear and detailed picture.

Are dental x-rays safe?

A dental x-ray every two years, or even more frequently, poses no health risk and the benefits to your dental health far outweigh any risk from exposure to the radiation emitted by the x-ray.

Modern digital x-rays, as opposed to traditional radiographic x-rays, emit a much lower level of radiation. At Jannali Dental Care, we only use digital x-rays – but if in doubt, always check with your dentist.

When are children able to have dental x-rays?

There is no general rule about when children can start to have x-rays.

A dentist will typically administer an x-ray on a child if they suspect particular dental health issues, or if that child is at high-risk of developing a dental issue.

Radiation levels can be lowered for child x-rays, but they are not given as a routine necessity as is the case in an adult check-up, usually only when they are needed as a diagnostic tool.

Are dental x-rays dangerous for pregnant women?

The Australian Dental Association says that x-rays are safe during all stages of pregnancy.

However, extra precautions are recommended during the first three terms of pregnancy and generally at Jannali Dental Care, our dentists will avoid routine preventative x-rays during pregnancy and only use them if required for more urgent diagnostic purposes.

The patient does of course have the right to refuse an x-ray if she feels it is not in her best interest.

How often should I get a dental x-ray?

Dental x-rays are recommended every two years as part of your check-up. Prevention is always better than cure and dental x-rays can pick up issues which can be missed by the eyes of even the most experienced dentist.

Some patients may require x-rays more frequently if they have a history of tooth decay or are at a high risk of dental problems.

X-rays are also administered if a patient presents with pain or other symptoms of infection or decay.

An xray can be just the thing that identifies and allows us to fix the problem that may be well-hidden to the naked eye.

If you have any concerns about dental xrays or any oral health issue, and its potential impact on their teeth, please give us a call on 9528 9204 or drop us an email info@jannalidentalcare.com.au

Talking to us is always the best option.