Why Do I Need
Radiographic, or X-ray,
examinations provide your dentist with an
important tool that shows the condition of your
teeth, its roots, jaw placement and the overall
composition of your facial bones. X-rays can
help your dentist determine the presence or
degree of periodontal (gum) disease, abscesses
and many abnormal growths, such as cysts and
tumors. X-rays also can show the exact location
of impacted and unerupted teeth. They can
pinpoint the location of cavities and other
signs of disease that may not be possible to
detect through a visual examination.
How often do I need to
have X-rays taken?
schedule is based on your dentist's assessment
of your individual needs, including whether
you're a new patient or a follow-up patient,
adult or child. In most cases, new patients
require a full set of mouth X-rays to evaluate
oral health status, including any underlying
signs of gum disease, and for future comparison.
Follow-up patients may require X-rays to monitor
their gum condition or their chance of tooth
What kind of
X-rays does my dentist usually take?
X-rays require patients to hold or bite down on
a piece of plastic with X-ray film in the
Some dentists are
now using digital X-rays. To take a digital
X-ray, your dentist will place a sensor on the
tooth that looks like a piece of film. Once the
picture is taken, your dentist can adjust the
contrast and brightness of the image to find
even the smallest area of decay. Other benefits
of digital X-rays are decreased exposure to
radiation and reduced time to develop photos,
which helps eliminate treatment disruptions.
My dentist has
prescribed a panoramic radiograph. What is that?
radiograph allows your dentist to see the entire
structure of your mouth in a single image.
Within one large film, panoramic X-rays reveal
all of your upper and lower teeth and parts of
Why do I need
both types of X-rays?
What is apparent
through one type of X-ray often is not visible
on another. The panoramic X-ray will give your
dentist a general and comprehensive view of your
entire mouth on a single film, which other
X-rays cannot show. On the other hand, you might
need close-up X- rays to show a highly detailed
image of a smaller area, making it easier for
your dentist to see decay between your teeth.
X-rays are not prescribed indiscriminately. Your
dentist has a need for the different information
that each X-ray can provide to formulate a
Should I be
concerned about exposure to radiation?
require exposure to very low levels of
radiation, which makes the risk of potentially
harmful effects very small. All health care
providers are sensitive to patients' concerns
about exposure to radiation. Your dentist has
been trained to prescribe X-rays when they are
appropriate and to tailor radiographic schedules
to each patient's individual needs. By using
state-of-the-art technology and by staying
knowledgeable about recent advances, your
dentist knows which techniques, procedures and
X-ray films can minimize your exposure to