Dental x-rays are images of your teeth that your dentist uses to assess your oral health. However, many patients question if dental x-rays are necessary and if they are safe.
The short answer is, “Dental x-rays are safe and often beneficial to your oral health,” said Dr Fareed Amod of Crown Dental Studio. “Many dental problems are invisible to the naked eye, and the x-rays allows a better assessment of any potential problems in tooth enamel, gums, bone and tooth roots. We provide digital imaging for our patients as part of a standard full examination to comprehensively identify and diagnose any treatment needs and to address our patients’ concerns.”
While dental x-rays are typically performed yearly, they can happen more often if the progress of a dental problem or treatment is being tracked. Factors affecting how often you need to have dental x-rays may include your:
· Current oral health
· Any symptoms of oral disease
· A history of gum disease (gingivitis) or tooth decay
Intraoral x-rays are the most common type of dental x-ray taken. These allow the dentist to see any small cavities that may be developing in between the teeth as well as infections between the tooth and gums. Once cavities are visible in the mouth, the tooth may already require a crown, root canal, or may even need to be extracted.
Extraoral x-rays focus is the jaw and skull and are used to look for impacted teeth, monitor growth and development of the jaws in relation to the teeth, and to identify potential problems between teeth and jaws and the temporomandibular joint. While cancer and tumours of the jaw are rare, the prognosis is always better if you can treat these early.
Your dentist may also need to diagnose a problem that’s causing pain or to determine the structure of your mouth to place dental work.
In addition, digital imaging has changed the technique of dental x-rays and the way in which many dentists practice. In digital radiography, a sensor is inserted into your mouth which captures the images of your teeth. The digital sensor is an electronic device connected to a computer. The sensor captures the images and then projects them on a screen for viewing by both you and your dentist.
Since digital imaging requires a lower level of radiation than traditional x-rays, the result is less exposure and a safer experience for both the patient and the dental professional administering the digital x-rays.
To put dental x-rays into perspective they can be compared to other environmental sources of radiation. The dose of radiation is measured in millirems or mrem; a standard dental x-ray gives off 0.5 mrem, while a single digital dental x-ray has 0.1 mrem of radiation.
This can be compared to:
· 35 mrem per year: Natural radiation from soil
· 36 mrem per year: Smoking one pack of cigarettes a day
· 5 mrem per year: Drinking water
· 10 mrem per year: Using natural gas for heating and cooking
“Basically, while dental x-rays expose you to some radiation, the benefits of having them performed outweigh the risks. The amount of radiation to which you are exposed during a dental x-ray is minimal in relation to the exposure that you receive in your daily life,” says Dr Amod.
“X-rays allow for a better quality of service, and better access to the information required to manage dental health, which are some of the factors that matter a lot to patients to keep their smiles intact.”
Crown Dental Studio is one of the few truly 24-hour dental practises in Durban as this is not limited to emergency dentistry treatment.
T: +27 (0)81 207 8621