Although most Americans are aware of the benefits of having their teeth cleaned by a dentist, many don’t understand the full advantages of receiving an annual X-ray exam. X-rays, which are also referred to as dental radiographs, are similar to the X-rays that are performed when you break a bone, dislocate a joint, or are suffering from pneumonia symptoms. Like conventional xrays, dental X-rays help dentists detect disease and examine injuries and abnormalities that are not revealed or recognized during the regular dental cleaning process.
Seeing Below the Surface
Many dental disorders are characterized by symptoms that are invisible to the naked eye, or by things that cannot be diagnosed during a routine mouth cleaning. A radiograph enables a dentist to see below the surface of the tooth and the gums, where trouble may be lurking.
X-rays can help find and diagnose extensive gum disease, hidden cavities, the earliest stages of enamel decay, the location of cysts, the depth of impacted teeth, the growth of tumors or abscesses, and the severity of injuries to teeth or jaws.
Dental X-rays are allow dentists to track the growth and development of molars and permanent teeth in children and teenagers. They are useful in deciding how to best remove a patient’s wisdom teeth. And they enable dentists to chart a course of treatment for a root canals, filling cavities, curing gum disease, and removing broken teeth.
The Dental X-ray Process
Modern dental X-ray procedures expose the patient to a minimal amount of radiation – so small that the risk of negative health effects is negligible. When a dentist recommends X-rays, it is because the benefits – which may be substantial –outweigh the insignificant risks.
Your dentist will explain why he or she wants to perform the X-ray. Of course, looking for cavities is one of the primary reasons during an annual exam. But other situations may apply. Perhaps you have an impacted tooth, and the dentist wants to see how far it is buried before attempting to extract it. Or maybe you are at risk for certain dental cancers, and your dentist wants to ensure that your mouth and bones are cancer-free.
The dental hygienist will cover your body and neck with a lead apron to protect your body and neck from any stray rays of radiation. The hygienist will then ask you to bite down on a plastic insert that contains a piece of X-ray film or an electronic sensor that detects X-rays. As you bite on this insert, the technician will take pictures of your mouth. The whole process usually takes only a few minutes. X-rays recorded on film take a few more minutes to process, while those recorded with an electronic sensor are available immediately for the dentist to examine.
For dental exams and cleaning in Jacksonville, contact Lane Avenue Family Dentistry. Feel free to call us with questions or if you are having a dental emergency: 904-783-1422.