What a Dentist Looks For With X-Rays During a Dental Check-up

Dental Checkup Gilbert, AZ

Having dental X-rays done is part of a dental check-up. Dental X-rays, also known as radiographs, are images of your teeth that your dentist will use to evaluate your oral health. When your dentist takes X-rays, your teeth' hard, mineralized tissue will block some of the radiation, which makes your healthy tissue appear lighter in color. On an X-ray, your dentist can see the tooth enamel (the tooth's outer surface), the underlying dentin layer, and the pulp chamber that houses the nerves.

Your dentist will probably recommend that you get X-rays every six months to catch oral health issues in your teeth, gums, and jaws early. If you can treat oral problems before they become serious, you will save yourself the money and discomfort of more extensive dental procedures later.

This article will outline the types of dental X-rays and explain the problems that can be detected with X-rays during a dental check-up.

Types of dental X-rays

Your dentist can see different things depending on the type of X-ray that is taken. The most common type of dental X-rays is intraoral X-rays. Intraoral X-rays are divided into four types.

  • Bitewing X-rays require you to bite down on a tab of paper or plastic. These X-rays allow your dentist to see teeth above the gum line and the height of bone between teeth. Bitewing X-rays help check for cavities between your teeth.
  • Occlusal X-rays are performed when your jaw is closed for your dentist to see how your top and bottom teeth line up. Occlusal X-rays are helpful when looking for anatomical abnormalities on the floor or roof of the mouth.
  • Panoramic X-rays are two-dimensional X-rays that show your entire mouth in one image. This view includes the lower and upper jaws, the lower and upper tooth arches, and all the surrounding tissues and structures inside your mouth.
  • Periapical X-rays allow your dentist to see two teeth from root to crown.

In addition to intraoral X-rays, your dentist may also take extra-oral X-rays. Intraoral X-rays are taken inside your mouth, and extra-oral X-rays are taken outside of your mouth.

Extra-oral X-rays do how your teeth, but their primary use is to allow your dentist to see your skull and jaw. However, since they are not as detailed as intraoral X-rays, they are not usually used to detect problems with individual teeth. Instead, extra-oral X-rays are used to monitor growth, identify issues between the teeth and jaws, and show impacted teeth (teeth that are still inside the jaw and have not yet erupted).

Problems X-rays spot

Your dentist uses dental X-rays to look for problems with your teeth and gums. Dental X-rays are commonly given to adults and children to spot numerous issues and determine whether the teeth are growing in the mouth properly. In children, dental X-rays can also help the dentist determine enough space in a child's mouth to fit erupting teeth. Dental X-rays also help your dentist to see developing decay, determine if wisdom teeth are beginning to erupt or if teeth are impacted and unable to penetrate the gum line.

Dental X-rays can assist in the diagnosis of a wide variety of health problems in adults. In addition to showing decay in the teeth, your dentist can also see 

  • Decay underneath the surface of existing fillings
  • Changes in the bone that are caused by infection
  • Bone loss in your jaws
  • Condition of your teeth before tooth implants
  • Abscesses
  • Cysts
  • Certain types of tumors

X-rays are often performed during standard routine dental check-ups, but your dentist may also perform X-rays if you come into the office feeling pain or discomfort. This will allow your dentist to diagnose problems that may not be visually recognized inside your mouth.

Request an appointment here: https://www.scottcondiedentistry.com or call Scott Condie Dentistry at (480) 530-6027 for an appointment in our Gilbert office.

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