Why are Dental X-Rays Important?

September 27, 2011 in Dentistry by McCarl Dental Group

Sometimes our patients ask “why is it important that I have x-rays taken when I come for my check-up?” The short answer is dental x-rays also called  radiographs can show us things that we cannot clinically see with our own eyes.

The dentists and dental hygienists at the Millersville and Greenbelt offices of McCarl Dental Group follow guidelines determined by the American Dental Association (ADA). The ADA standard of care is to perform routine intraoral radiographs once a year for most patients. These are the films that we normally refer to as “bitewing” x-rays. The other type of radiographs, Panoramic or Full Mouth Series of films, are normally taken once every 5 years. Occasionally there will be the need to take an x-ray of just one tooth for treatment or monitoring. To help provide incentive for people to get very important preventive care, we offer special discounts for an introductory visit with teeth cleaning, evaluation by a dental hygienist, dental x-rays as necessary and an exam by a dentist. The comprehensive dental exam also includes an oral cancer screening.

Each type of dental radiograph works in a different way. A panorex/panoramic film shows us a broader view of the entire oral cavity, bone structures and anatomy surrounding the teeth. This allows us to screen for any problems such as cysts, bone degeneration or missing teeth.

Bitewing x-rays are more detailed and allow us to closely look into the contact area between your back teeth. This is an important area to watch for early signs of decay and periodontal disease. A periapical x-ray will show us more of an individual tooth than a bitewing, and allow us to see around the tip, or apex of the tooth. These smaller films, the bitewing and PA, also allow us to detect abscesses and monitor the quality of existing dental work.

Without x-rays, we might not be able to see dental problems like failing restorations, recurrent decay, or a tooth abscess in the earliest stages. By the time many of these symptoms become evident visually, they are advanced and causing notable discomfort. That’s why coming in for routine dental hygiene cleaning and dental examinations can prevent more advanced treatments later. Our goal is to prevent dental problems and maintain a healthy smile. Dental x-rays help us achieve that goal.

Dental x-rays are extremely safe. They use minimal levels of radiation, and newer digital x-ray equipment uses even less. We are able to view and discuss digital x-rays with our patients on a large television screen in the dental operatories. This allows our patients to see what we are seeing and understand the treatment process better. Patients who have an increased risk of decay, or who suffer from periodontal disease may need more frequent radiographs. This is to help us monitor any suspected areas and intervene with therapy before problems progress to a more severe stage.

If you’re behind on your dental care or need to schedule your routine dental cleaning and exam, call us at our Millersville, MD dental office (410) 987-8800 or Greenbelt dental office (301) 474-4144 to schedule a check-up. www.mccarldental.com