Dental Radiographs

Why do I need x-rays?

Radiographic or x-ray examinations provide your dentist with an important tool that shows the condition of your teeth, the roots, jaw placement and the overall composition of your facial bones.

X-rays can help determine the presence or degree of gum disease, abscesses and many abnormal growths, such as cysts and tumors.  X-rays can also 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.

Do all patients have x-rays taken every 6 months?

No.  Your radiographic schedule is based on our assessment of your individual needs, including whether you are a new patient or recall patient, and adult or child.  In most cases, new patients require a full set of dental x-rays to evaluate oral health status, including any underlying signs of periodontal disease and for future comparison.  Recall patients may require x-rays to monitor their periodontal condition. 

What kind of x-rays does my dentist usually take?

Typically, most dental patients have “periapical” or “bitewing” radiographs taken. These require patients to hold or bite down on a piece of plastic with an x-ray film in the centre.  Bitewing x-rays typically determine the presence of decay and bone level in between the teeth, whole periapical x-rays show root structure, cysts and abscesses 

What is a panoramic x-ray?

Just as a panoramic photograph allows you to see a broad view, a panoramic x-ray radiograph allows the 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 your jaw.

Why do I need both types of x-rays?

What is apparent through one type of x-ray is not visible on another.  The panoramic x-ray will give a general and comprehensive view of your entire mouth on a single film, which a periapical or bitewing x-ray cannot show.  On the other hand, a periapical or bitewing x-rays show a highly detailed image of a smaller area, which makes it easier to see decay or cavities between your teeth. X-rays are not prescribed indiscriminately. Your dentist has a need for the different information that each radiograph can provide to formulate a diagnosis 

Should I be concerned about exposure to radiation?

All health care providers are sensitive to patients concerns about exposure to radiation.    Your Dentist has been trained to prescribe radiographs 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 radiation.