What is Digital Dental Radiography, and How Does It Work?
During your regular visits to the dentist, there is a high chance that he uses x-rays. The x-rays are used to spot problems early, most of which cannot be seen with naked eyes. For example, a dental x-ray check can identify underlying conditions such as tooth decay, bone loss, and more.
However, most patients have questions concerning the safety of these x-rays. In this blog, we will answer some of the questions about x-rays, so you can feel at peace while undergoing an x-ray check.
How Do X-rays Work?
A patient’s bones and teeth absorb more rays than the soft tissues such as gums and cheeks when the x-rays are passed through the mouth. For that reason, teeth appear lighter on the dental x-ray images.
However, if a tooth is decayed or infected, it will appear darker because decayed teeth do not absorb as much x-ray as healthy teeth. Therefore, if the images show dark teeth, it means your teeth have underlying conditions.
When a dental problem is identified early, it will save you more than just money. The treatment will be less invasive, comfortable, and it can save your natural tooth. Digital radiographic make that happen since a general oral exam cannot identify some problems until it is too late.
What Problems Does X-ray Detect?
X-rays will help diagnose problems with your teeth and jaws. Here are some of the issues digital dental radiography can identify:
- Tooth decay in small areas between a patient’s teeth.
- Tooth decay beneath dental fillings.
- Bone loss
- Changes in a patient’s root canal due to an infection
- Position and condition of one’s teeth in preparation for restorative treatment, including implants and dentures.
An infection between a patient’s gums and teeth (abscess)
- Developing decay in children
- Confirming if there is enough space in a child’s mouth to fit incoming permanent teeth
- Developing wisdom teeth
- Impacted wisdom teeth
Types of X-rays
Typically, there are two types of x-rays; intraoral and extraoral.
Intraoral x-rays are the most common, and they are often conducted from the inside of a patient’s mouth. There are various types of intraoral x-rays, and they include:
- Bitewing x-rays: Mostly used to detect bone loss caused by gum disease. They can also be used to determine the crown fit for restorative procedures.
- Occlusal x-rays: Mostly used to track the development of an arch of teeth on any jaw.
- Periapical x-rays: They show an entire tooth, from the crown to the root. The rays are mostly used to detect changes in a patient’s roots and bone structures.
Extraoral rays are used from the outside of the mouth to determine problems in the skull and jaw. Types of extraoral x-rays include:
- Panoramic x-rays: Shows the entire mouth area. The x-ray can be used to detect tumors, emerging, and impacted teeth.
- Sialogram: This test uses dye injected into one’s salivary glands to identify salivary glands problems.
- Cone-beam computed tomography creates 3-D images of a patient’s dental structures, nerves, bone, and soft tissues.
- Digital Imaging: It takes 2-D images that are directly sent into a computer. The images can be stored, printed, or sent to another person in seconds.
- Cephalometric projections: This x-ray is mostly used by orthodontists to develop a customized teeth alignment approach.
- MRI Imaging: The imaging takes a 3-D view of a patient’s jaw and teeth. It is mostly used to evaluate soft tissues.
How Often Should One Get X-rays?
Each patient is different, and your dentist will advise you on how often you should get x-rays. A person prone to cavities will need to get more x-rays than another who is not. Typically, children and adults require to undergo x-ray checks more often than adults.
Are Dental X-rays Safe?
Yes, the amount of radiation emitted is too small to cause any damage. The amount of x-ray you will be exposed to is almost the same as the one we are all exposed to from environmental influences, including watching TV, smoke detectors, and airplanes.
However, as much as the x-rays are safe, pregnant women are advised to refrain from the exposure. If it is absolutely necessary, the dentist will ask you to wear a lead apron during the procedure.