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X-rays are one of the many services that we offer, but it’s also one of the least understood. X-rays are a huge part of dental health. Dentists use x-rays everyday to ensure the oral health of their patients. When we do a dental x-ray at Dr. Goldsmith dental, we want to make sure the patient is informed and comfortable. Some people are worried about the effects that x-rays can have on your health. A lot of these fears come from a misunderstanding.
What are X-Rays?
Invented by a German inventor in 1895, x-rays changed the way that we look at healthcare. Also called digital radiography, x-rays have been an important part of dental health as well as general health for decades, but they have become much more efficient and safer through the years. Before we can discuss the need and advantages of x-rays, you have to understand exactly what an x-ray is and how it works.
X-rays are a type of light, but with a different wavelength than the type of light that we see. These rays can go through non-metal materials. These waves will pass right through our bodies and organs. The x-ray machine emits a concentrated stream of x-ray particles, some of these are absorbed by the dense parts of our body which then show up as a darker spot on the x-ray film.
Why are they used?
There are several reasons that a dentist could have an x-ray done on a patient. The first is preventative. Several problems could be happening inside of your mouth that isn’t visible to the naked eye. X-rays can show any problems that might be happening in or around the mouth that we wouldn’t be able to detect otherwise.
With x-rays, your dentist can look for at the roots of your teeth, the bones supporting your teeth, and the tissue around it. They can also look for any infections or gum disease, decay under fillings or damage around the fillings.
They are even more important for children and teenagers that still have teeth coming in and developing. X-rays can show how teeth are coming in and if braces will be needed in the future.
Types of x-rays
While a lot of people think that all x-rays are the same, this isn’t true. There are several different types of x-rays that your dentist could use. Each of them has different functions to reveal different sections of your mouth. There are dozens of different types, but we will explain some of the most popular types.
A bite-wing x-ray shows the crowns of the back of the teeth. Your dentist will take two of these to get both the upper and lower. With these x-rays, you’ll have to bite down on a device that has the x-ray film.
Periapical x-rays are similar to bite-wing except they don’t give a look at the whole mouth. Instead, these x-rays focus on only one or two teeth. They show the entire tooth, from crown all the way down to the root.
As you can guess by the name, a panoramic x-ray shows all of the teeth, jaw, joints, nasal passage, and all of the surrounding area. This is a great way for the dentist to get an all-encompassing view of your oral health. A panoramic x-ray requires a special machine that goes all the way around your head to get a view from every angle.
These are similar to panoramic, but they don’t give a view from all around. Instead, these x-rays are used to look at teeth growth, looking at the bones around the mouth, and to see any impacted teeth.
Are they safe?
Because of the complex nature and the idea of having x-rays going through our body is scary, a lot of patients are concerned about the safety of x-ray machines. While x-rays can cause damage if you are exposed to large amounts or for long periods of time, the x-ray machines are completely safe to use.
Your dentist will only have an x-ray done whenever medically necessary. Your age and oral health are going to determine how often you will need an x-ray, but there is little chance of having any damage because of too much exposure to x-rays.
A lot of parents worry about the safety of their children getting x-rays. No harm can come to children from getting an x-ray. Just like with adults, x-rays are completely safe under certain exposure limits.
The one concern of x-ray safety is for pregnant women. While the chances of harming the baby are microscopic, pregnant women should try and avoid having x-rays done unless in an emergency. Always inform your dentist before your appointment if you’re pregnant.
X-Rays in Dentistry
X-rays are an extremely important part of oral health. Without x-rays, dentists wouldn’t be able to catch a lot of problems until after they have already set in. Catching complications before they start is an important step in a healthy mouth.
Your dentist will probably do an x-ray at least once a year to ensure that everything is okay inside your mouth and around it. If you are having any problems or are inclined to oral complications, your dentist may suggest having more than one a year done. Similarly, if it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, you may have several of the types of x-rays done to get a complete look at your oral health.
What you need to know
Keeping a healthy mouth is important. Poor oral health can lead to pain, frustration, and a lot of money. Having regular dentist visits can ensure that your mouth stays in perfect condition, and a large part of that is x-rays. If you have any questions or concerns about having an x-ray done, Dr. Goldsmith would be happy to answer them. We are happy to provide quality dentistry to Indianapolis and the surrounding areas. Call us today and set up an appointment!