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X-Rays and Radiographs

The best diagnostic tool the dentist has is an x-ray. X-rays show the gums, teeth, bone and any problems that might be present. Some people may have concerns about the radiation involved in receiving an x-ray. The amount of radiation from dental x-rays is less than radiation exposure from being in the sun. This is due to the high speed film used, which requires less exposure, a lead shield that is placed over the patient, and a cone that directs the radiation to a very small area.

We take a panoramic x-ray or full mouth x-rays (18 individual x-rays) on all new patients. This gives the dentist a complete picture of the patient’s mouth and includes the roots and surrounding bone. We can request this set of x-rays from a previous dentist if they were taken within the last 5 years. It is best to have a new set of these x-rays every 3-5 years to check for changes that cannot be detected any other way.

Bitewing x-rays are cavity detecting x-rays. These are pictures of the back teeth biting down. They show between the teeth to detect cavities. If cavities are going to develop, the molar teeth are where they most often occur. These are taken on new patients and on a regular basis at recall visits. The interval will be determined by the rate of cavities the patient has, but usually are taken on a yearly basis.

A periapical x-ray is taken to view one tooth. This is used when a patient has a tooth ache so the dentist can properly diagnose the problem.