Dental x-rays are an important part of a dental exam. They help your dentist diagnose tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems. The frequency of x-rays will vary based on your medical history and risk factors for developing dental disease. In general, patients at low risk for developing dental disease can have a single set of panoramic x-rays every 3 to 5 years and then only yearly thereafter. Patients at higher risk for developing dental disease may need their first set of panoramic x-rays within one or two years after the initial visit. After that initial set of panoramic x-rays, follow-up with a single panoramic x-ray every 1 to 2 years is usually sufficient.
A dentist may recommend more frequent X-rays for the following reasons:
- If you have a family history of gum disease or other oral health problems.
- If you have signs of gum disease, such as bleeding gums or redness around the gums.
- If you grind or clench your teeth at night.
- If you experience pain when chewing or swallowing certain foods or drinks.
- If you wear dentures that fit poorly or if your dentures come out of place during chewing and swallowing.
Do all Cavities Show up on X-Rays?
No, not all cavities show up on X-rays. Only when a cavity has reached a certain depth will it show up on an x-ray. This is why it is so important to have regular dental checkups so that we can catch any cavities before they reach this depth and become more difficult to treat. The best way to find out if you have a cavity is to get your teeth checked by a dentist, but X-rays can be used as a tool to help detect cavities before they become visible.
X-rays are also used to detect bone loss and gum disease
Dental X-rays are used to check for cavities, but they’re also helpful in detecting bone loss and gum disease. Bone loss is caused by things like osteoporosis and a lack of calcium in the diet, and can be found in the jawbone, spine, and hip. Gum disease is more common than you think—about 90 percent of adults over 30 have some form of it—and can be treated with antibiotics and scaling (when your dentist removes the buildup of plaque, tartar, and bacteria with a special instrument). If you think you might be at risk for either of these conditions, see your dentist regularly so that they can catch any issues early on.
Bone loss is an indication of periodontal disease
Periodontal disease can cause the loss of bone around the teeth, which is called bone resorption. This can happen because bacteria in the mouth attach to the gum tissue, causing inflammation and damage to the surrounding bone.
Bone resorption can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
Can an X-Ray Show a Tooth Infection?
Yes, sometimes an x-ray can show a tooth infection. Most of the time we use digital x-rays instead of film so we can see better what is going on inside your mouth. Sometimes we need to take special tests with our radiograph machine (also called “digital radiograph”). These are called CT scans or CAT scans (computerized axial tomography). They give us very detailed views inside organs or body parts such as the lungs, brain, or abdomen. They also give us a lot more detail in looking at teeth than normal x-rays do.
Make Your Routine Dental Check-Up Today!
As you can see, the best way to keep up with your oral health and avoid future dental problems is to make sure you visit your dentist regularly. Regular dental check-ups are one of the most effective ways to catch issues early before they become serious. Good oral health care and prevention start with a simple check-up every six months!