Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

Dental x-rays are a common feature of any dental cleaning visit here at Taylor General & Cosmetic Dentistry. With dental x-rays, Dr. Taylor is able to uncover hidden issues that can impact your oral health. But, since dental x-rays are still a type of radiation, there have been some patients who have been concerned with the safety of the procedure.

In short—dental x-rays are safe as they produce the least amount of radiation exposure when compared to an x-ray of your abdomen, mammogram, pelvis, and chest, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Only having your hand or foot x-rayed will produce less radiation.

But if you aren’t positive that you need dental x-rays, let’s take an in-depth look at why our dentist uses x-rays, how they work, and more.

Why Dentists Use Dental X-Rays

While there are times where a dentist can examine your teeth and see what the problem is, there are many times where using dental x-rays can help. Some of the main reasons why dentists will use x-rays during your biannual check-up are:

Find Oral Health Issues

There are many common dental issues that are uncovered by x-rays—ranging from finding hidden cavities to detecting abscesses. These issues can be difficult to almost impossible to see with just a visual inspection, so by using dental x-rays, our dentist can provide you with better dental care overall.

Monitor Oral Progress

If there were issues that have been recently addressed—TMJ, healing abscesses, etc.—an x-ray may be needed to be assured that the problem is healing properly. That way, if there is an additional problem that could halt your oral health progress, it can be caught and treated early on.

Determine If Treatment Is Necessary

An x-ray can provide insight into whether or not dental treatment is necessary. For instance, say that a cavity is found during your dental cleaning. The x-ray will be able to show if the cavity requires intervention or if less invasive steps can be taken. Also, x-rays can help show that your oral health is in good enough condition for you to receive cosmetic dental treatments.

Types Of Dental X-Rays

Depending on your oral health needs, there is a variety of different dental x-rays that may be used.

  • Cone beam computerized tomography (CBCT) – This type of x-ray imaging technique is used to create a specialized cone of radiation. It creates a 3D image of the area to help our dentist when you need a dental implant. That way, your implant will fit seamlessly with your natural teeth.
  • Cephalometric (ceph) – In a dentist office, a cephalometric x-ray is used when you are considering orthodontic treatment. It is used to help the dentist determine how orthodontic treatment will affect the shape of your mouth and jaw.
  • Bitewing – With a bitewing x-ray, only one distinct section of the mouth is highlighted. In the small section of imaging, your upper and lower crowns will be displayed. This focused x-ray helps our dentist identify if you have any hidden cavities and the state of your current fillings.
  • Panoramic – One of the most common forms of dental x-rays, this type of x-ray takes a panoramic picture of your entire mouth. That way, our dentist can get an overall view of the state of your oral health.
  • Periapical – Similar to a bitewing x-ray, a periapical x-ray shows a section of your teeth, from the root to crown. However, it will only show the upper or lower teeth in one section.
  • Occlusal – With occlusal x-rays, the teeth aren’t the main focus of the x-ray. Instead, this type of x-ray focuses either on the floor or roof of your mouth. That way, unerupted teeth, jaw fractures, or other issues can be detected.

Are X-Rays Harmful During Pregnancy

When it comes to dental x-rays and pregnancy, we have had some of our patients ask about safety. And with the appropriate shielding—such as a lead apron—having a dental x-ray should not harm your developing baby in any way. However, if you prefer, your x-ray can be delayed until after you have given birth.

If you still have questions or concerns about how your dental x-rays work, that’s okay. Our staff is happy to talk to you about your concerns during your next dental cleaning, so feel free to contact us to set up your next appointment!

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