Why Do We Take X-Rays?

There’s a lot going on in your mouth that is not visible to the naked eye, and dental X-rays allow your dentist to see what’s happening below the surface.  X-rays provide your dentist with a comprehensive assessment of the health of your mouth. The types of X-rays your dentist will take will depend on the conditions for which you are being assessed. The decision to take an X-ray, and the type of X-ray taken, will depend on several factors, e.g., your past and present oral health, an examination of your mouth, your age, risk of disease, and any early symptoms of oral disease.

But I have no pain!

Tooth decay can be sneaky – early on, it may not show any physical signs of its presence. X-rays are an important diagnostic tool that allows your dentist to determine whether you have tooth decay or any other problems such as infection around the roots of the tooth or bone loss. Spotting it early means your dentist can deal with the problem before it becomes significant.

Are X-rays safe?

Whether you’re a child or an adult, it is safe for you to take X-rays of the inside and outside of your mouth. The amount of radiation you receive is extremely low. It is equivalent to the amount of exposure you’d receive on a 1-2 hour flight. This means that even if you’re pregnant, you can have X-rays taken. However, we generally do not take X-rays for pregnant women unless absolutely necessary.

Why does the dentist leave the room when he or she is taking X-rays of me?

Nothing to worry about here – they’re taking lots of X-rays all day long, and stepping out of the room limits their ongoing exposure to radiation.

What can dental X-rays detect?

  • Small areas of decay between teeth not visible to the eye

  • Problems with existing fillings, root canals, crowns, or bridges

  • The presence and severity of gum disease

  • Abscesses or other infections

  • Tooth development issues such as malformed teeth, extra or missing teeth etc.

  • Cysts and some types of tumours

  • Traumatic injuries such as tooth and bone fractures

  • Proximity of teeth to nerves and sinuses

  • The development of wisdom teeth and whether they need to be removed

  • The amount of bone needed for dental implants