Dental X-rays are images of your teeth, gums, bones and soft tissues that will help Dr. Nishimura evaluate your oral health. There are numerous reasons for dental X-rays, from a routine examination to the possibility of an issue with the teeth and gums, or as a follow-up after dental treatments.
Dental X-rays are both painless and easy to administer, and there are several different types used for various reasons. They help Dr. Nishimura and our staff of dental hygienists spot problems, such as tooth decay, cavities and impacted teeth. They can also show hidden dental structures or bone loss that cannot be seen with a regular examination.
Dental X-rays may only be needed once a year or they may be needed more frequently if Dr. Nishimura is tracking the progression of a dental problem or procedure. Factors contributing to the need for dental X-rays include age, current state of oral health and any symptoms of oral disease. Below you will find information on the different types of dental X-rays, as well as more details on why in some cases they are necessary.
Types of Dental X-Rays
All X-rays use small amounts of radiation and some may be used to show specific teeth or parts of the mouth whereas others show images of the entire mouth. The most commonly used types of dental X-rays include:
- Bitewing X-Rays – these show the upper and lower back teeth in one specific area of the mouth. Each bitewing X-ray will show a particular tooth from its crown to the level of the supporting bone. They are used to detect tooth decay, changes in bone density that may be due to gum disease, and to determine the proper fit of a crown
- Periapical X-Rays – these show the entire mouth, from the crown to beyond the end of the root where each tooth is anchored to the jaw. Periapical X-rays are often used to pinpoint any abnormalities in the root or bone structure
- Occlusal X-Rays – these are larger than the other two types and show full tooth development and placement
- Panoramic X-Rays – these show the jaws, teeth, sinuses, jaw joints and nasal area. They are not used to look for cavities, but they do show problems such as impacted teeth, cysts, tumors, infections and fractures
- Digital X-Rays – these are the newest form of X-rays and use a small sensor to take pictures that are then sent to a computer. Our office uses only digital x-rays. The advantage of digital x-rays is that they expose the patient to less radiation, which is about 1/10th of the normal film.
Reasons for Requiring Dental X-Rays
The most common reasons for needing dental X-rays are as follows:
- To find oral problems, such as tooth decay, dental injuries and bone damage
- To detect teeth that did not grow into the right place or did not break through the gum properly
- To locate cysts, tumors or abscesses
- To monitor permanent teeth growing in to the jaw of children
Dental X-rays are commonly administered in our office and are used so Dr. Nishimura can better determine a patient’s overall oral health and detect if there are any problems that need to be addressed.