Many people don’t like coming to the dentist. One of the biggest reasons we always here is “I hate the x-rays! They hurt and are full of radiation!”
Why do we need those x-rays?
X-rays show the Dentist so much! They show bone level, the sinus cavity, the mandibular nerve, decay, abscesses, nerves of the teeth, enamel on the teeth…there is just so much that one x-ray can show!
There are many different kinds of dental x-rays and they serve many different purposes. Dr. Ross, a Loveland, co dentist describes the most common dental x-rays and the pros and cons of each one:
- Panoramic x-ray: This type of film goes around the head and will show the Dentist your whole mouth in panoramic view.
- The Panoramic x-ray is great to see the whole mouth. It is most commonly taken on children to ensure all permanent teeth are present under the primary teeth, adolescents to check on wisdom teeth position and if orthodontics is needed, and edentulous patients (a person with no teeth) to check the relation of the bone level of the mouth to where the sinus cavity and the mandibular nerve is.
- The panoramic x-ray is not good for diagnostic purposes. It is an overall view of the mouth so it does not show the teeth with a close up view. Decay can be seen on the panoramic x-ray, however if decay can be seen on this film it is VERY large.
- panoramic xray. This shows the whole mouth.
- Full Mouth Series is 18 individual films that show the roots of the teeth to the biting surfaces along with the anterior teeth that are most commonly taken on adults every 3-5 years.
- The full mouth series is a great set of films that shows the Dentist every tooth close up at multiple angles. This series has periapical x-rays, bitewing x-rays, and anterior periapical x-rays. This set of films shows the Dentist the sinus cavity, the mandibular nerve, decay, bone level and the anterior teeth. It has the best diagnostic views of the teeth to ensure a complete and proper diagnosis of the mouth. Dentist usually like this set of films every 3-5 years to track any changes in the mouth.
- The set of films are not always the most comfortable. There are multiple x-rays so some aren’t as comfortable as others.
- A full mouth series. Shows an up close view of the roots of the teeth and the biting surfaces.
- Periapical X-ray: Shows the root structure of the tooth.
- This is a single film that isolates one tooth. It is commonly taken either in a Full Mouth Series or if someone is having pain associated with a tooth. It can be taken in the back of the mouth or the front. It shows the root structure to show if an abscess is present or not.
- Since this is a single film, it will not show the rest of the mouth if there are other problems. It will only show if that one tooth is ok.
- Bitewing: Shows in between the teeth and bone level.
- A bitwewing is commonly taken 1 time a year to detect cavities and to show the bone level of the teeth. It is normally taken in a set of four. Two in the back on the right and left and two in the front on the right and left. These films will get the top teeth and the back teeth.
- Since these films are showing the biting surface of the teeth, they do not show the root structure. If there is a suspicious area at the tip of the root, these x-rays will not show that, only a periapical x-ray will show that.
Why Digital x-rays are better than the old analog x-rays.
Dental x-rays have moved away from analog film and switched to Digital x-rays. Digital x-rays have a lot of benefits compared to analog films. There is not as much radiation, the sensors are more comfortable than the analog films, and the picture from the x-ray shows up immediately.
Digital x-rays drastically decrease the amount of radiation exposure. Radiation is measured in Sieverts.
A person is exposed to roughly 3 milli Sieverts per year with background radiation. Which means, every day you are exposed to some type of radiation just going outside or living your normal life.
Dental radiation is measured in micro Sieverts. A panoramic digital x-ray is roughly 9 micro Sieverts. A full mouth series is roughly 90 micro Sieverts, a periapical x ray is roughtly 5 micro Sieverts, and a set of four bitewings is roughly 20 micro Sieverts.
With the Dental community changing to digital x-rays the amount of radiation is very low and the importance of x-rays to ensure your oral health is greatly needed.
We hope this blog answers the questions about why Dental x-rays are so important!