Dental x-rays are visual exam to prevent dental problems, maintain healthy gum tissue, and diagnosis any oral health issues including dental caries. There are two types of diagnostic x-rays that can be taken in a dental office. Intraoral x-rays are the most helpful in determining cavities and determining the health of the root and surrounding bone levels. With digital x-rays a sensor is placed in the mouth and the x-ray is taken with the image almost immediately being projected on a computer screen. Extraoral x-rays are performed with the x-ray scanning the outside of the area of interest. One of the most common types of extraoral digital x-rays available in a general dentist’s office would be the panoramic x-ray. The purpose of this type of x-ray is to focus on the development of the teeth and bone in the jaw, determine the position and existence of third molars, and help in diagnosis and treatment of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues.
Many benefits exist for the patient in having digital x-rays taken in the dental office instead of conventional film based x-rays. As mentioned earlier, the ability to produce the dental image seconds after the x-ray is taken allows for faster treatment and diagnosis of dental issues. This technology is particularly beneficial during endodontic treatment when multiple x-rays may be taken to determine the file and fill lengths during a root canal. In addition, the reduction of radiation exposure for the patient is a dramatic advantage. The digital x-ray image produced can be manipulated with dental software by using contrast techniques to aid in diagnosis of dental problems. The advent of digital x-rays also allows the process of transferring x-rays between offices to be faster and more efficient.
The need and frequency of digital x-rays for a patient is dependent on the health and clinical history of each individual. For new patients entering a dental practice, it is important for the dentist to determine a baseline from which to compare changes in oral health as time progresses. This new patient set of x-rays may include a full mouth set of x-rays and/or a panoramic x-ray and 4 bitewing x-rays. This x-ray series will help to create a reference starting point for future treatment. Future maintenance x-rays will be determined according to the consistency of care and health of the individual’s mouth. For proper dental care, digital x-rays provide an optimal tool to aid your dentist in providing the best possible care to maintain your oral health.