Dental Exams FAQ
What are digital X-rays?
Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged helping the dentist and dental hygienist detect problems easier. Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.
Dental x-rays are essential, preventative, diagnostic tools that provide valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Dentists and dental hygienists use this information to safely and accurately detect hidden dental abnormalities and complete an accurate treatment plan. Without x-rays, problem areas may go undetected.
Dental x-rays may reveal:
- Abcesses or cysts in the jaw bone.
- Impacted or extra teeth.
- Bone loss.
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
- Decay between the teeth.
- Developmental abnormalities.
- Poor tooth and root positions.
- Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line.
Detecting and treating dental problems at an early stage may save you time, money, unnecessary discomfort, and your teeth!
Are dental x-rays safe?
We are all exposed to natural radiation in our environment. Digital x-rays produce a significantly lower level of radiation compared to traditional dental x-rays. Not only are digital x-rays better for the health and safety of our patients, they are faster and more comfortable to take, which reduces your time in the dental office. Also, since the digital image is captured electronically, there is no need to develop the x-rays, thus eliminating the disposal of harmful waste and chemicals into the environment. Digital images can be magnified. With the direct method, images appear immediately on the computer monitor. There is ease of information transfer to other dentists or insurance companies.
Even though digital x-rays produce a low level of radiation and are considered very safe, we still take necessary precautions to limit our patient’s exposure to radiation. These precautions include only taking those x-rays that are necessary.
Do I really have to have regular dental check-ups?
How often you go for a check-up depends on your oral health needs. The goal is to catch small problems early. For many people, this means a check-up every six months. We may suggest that you visit more or less often depending on how well you care for your teeth and gums, problems you have that need to be checked or treated, how fast tartar builds up on your teeth, and so on.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I floss every day?
- Do I brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and follow my dentist’s / hygienist’s instructions on how to brush properly?
- Do I eat a well-balanced diet, including food from all food groups, and limit sweets and sticky foods?
- Do I smoke?
- Do I have a history of cavities or gum disease?
- Is my overall health good?
Do I need x-rays at each visit?
How often and how many x-rays you need depends on your oral health. Remember that your dentist cannot see the inside of your tooth and must have x-rays to determine the size and extent of any decay and bone loss. Your dentist and dental hygienist will recommend necessary x-rays based upon the review of your medical and dental history, a dental exam, signs and symptoms, your age, and risk of disease.
If your dental situation is less stable and Dr. Bailey or Dr. Muzina are monitoring your progress, you may require more frequent x-rays.
If you are not sure why a particular x-ray is being taken, ask. Remember that dental x-rays deliver very little radiation; they are a vital tool for our dentists to ensure that small problems don’t develop into bigger ones.