Dental X-rays, which are also known as radiographs are a very important aspect of any dental care and treatment plan. They are primarily meant to be diagnostic, but can also be preventative as they can help a patient discover major dental health complications when they are beginning to form. The X-rays are used to take the photographs because they pass through less dense tissue such as the gums and the cheeks and get absorbed by the denser teeth and jawbone.
There are two types of dental X-rays:
• Intra-oral X-rays: These are taken inside the mouth.
• Extra oral X-rays: These ones on the other hand are taken outside the mouth.
The intraoral X-rays are the most common radiographs that are taken in the dentistry industry. They are used to diagnose and treat problems such as.
1. Dental cavities: these are holes that form in the teeth when the enamel and the dentine wear out as a result of decay. There are times, when the external extent of the decay cannot be seen by simply assessing the tooth, hence the need for an X-ray.
2. Looking at tooth roots: the roots of the teeth are positioned in the gum and inside the jawbone. This means that the only way to assess them is through these radiographs.
3. Checking the health of the bony area around the teeth is another circumstance that may lead to the need for a dental X-ray.
4. X-rays are also taken to see the development of growing teeth and see if there are any issues with the progress.
Common types of dental X-rays
There are several types of X-rays that can be ordered by a dentist. This depends on the problem that they are trying to diagnose. The most common types here include:
• Periapical: This is an X-ray that gives a view of the entire tooth from the crown to the root and the bone that supports the tooth.
• Bite wing: This is the type of X-ray that offers a clear view of the upper and the lower back teeth. They indicate how the teeth touch one another and whether decay is present or not.
• Panoramic: when a view of the nasal area, sinuses, joints of the jaw and the teeth is needed, this is the ideal X-ray type. These are common for patients that are going in for implants.
• Occlusal: these are X-rays that are aimed at giving a clear view of the floor of the mouth. They also show the bite of the upper jaw. They are recommended in children in order to show the development of the permanent teeth.
The benefits of dental X-rays
Just like all other types of radiation, X-rays come with their own set of risks. However, the potential benefits normally outweigh the risks. One of the main benefits of X-rays is that they give the dentist a clear view of the problem that the patient is having. This makes treatment easier.
The second benefit is that they can serve as a means to prevent serious dental problems before they become complicated. Most of the times, people lose teeth to decay and tooth disease because the problem was not discovered in time. Problems as complicated as cancer o the mouth have been discovered and treated in time, all thanks to dental X-rays.
Other problems that are discovered and treated by administering X-rays include some types of oral tumors, periodontal disease, infections in the bone, abscess and cysts and developmental abnormalities. The best thing about the process is that it is easy and very non- invasive. When done under the right conditions, X-rays are safe and harmless and can save a patient from very serious dental problems.