When your dentist examines your mouth, many diseases which effect your teeth and surrounding gums cannot be seen by the naked eye. However, taking an x-ray, allows your dentist to pinpoint hidden issues and problems which effect your oral health.
For example, x-rays allow your dentist to clearly see:
- Small areas of decay/cavities between your teeth
- Decay sitting below composite or amalgam fillings.
- Infections in the jaw and bone which hold your teeth in place.
- Gum disease (periodontal).
- Abscesses or cysts which sit under your teeth and in your gum.
- Developmental abnormalities and trauma assessment.
- And some rarer types of tumours.
How does an x-ray work?
When X-rays are directed towards your mouth and jaw, the denser parts (teeth and bone) absorb those rays more than your mouth’s soft tissues (i.e. cheeks and gums). This image is then digitally processed on a computer to create that familiar ‘photo’ called a radiograph.
Your dentist will then inspect the image looking for signs of tooth decay, infection or gum disease as these will appear darker on the radiograph. Being highly skilled at interpreting radiographs your dentist is able to to accurately and safely detect hidden problems.
Your specific health needs and circumstances will determine how often and how many x-rays are taken. And no dentist will take x-rays without good reason and will always do so in a safe manner. Your dentist will review your history, examine your mouth and decide whether you need radiographs to be taken or not.
In summary, x-rays are an important tool in dentistry. They help your dentist to identify and treat dental problems at an early stage before they become more serious. They are well proven in helping to save time, money and future discomfort from more serioius oral health issues.