How Important is Dental X-ray for Diagnosis?

Dr Sukanya Goswami
Sukanya has done BDS. She is a dentist, a blogger, an extrovert, and a travel enthusiast. She is also a spiritual believer. When she is not working, you can find her reading books.

Dental x-rays are invaluable to any dentist in maintaining the good oral health of the patient and deciding the right treatment for them.

Used for both children and adults, dental x-rays are diagnostic tools that provide a detail orientation of the teeth.

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With the help of dental x-rays, a dentist can gauge the dental factors of the patient’s mouth that may not be visible on a visual examination of the mouth.

Dental x-rays give the dentist the ability to see the details between and inside the teeth.

Usually, dental x-rays are a significant part of routine oral examinations. However, radiographs can be used in the identification of any specific or isolated dental problem.

Dental radiographs are an excellent means of inspecting some of the common dental problems like the extent of tooth decay or cavity, signs of periodontal disease, presence of bony cysts or tumors of the jaw, impacted teeth, and congenitally missing teeth.

However, in children, dental radiographs may have some other purposes too, for example, checking the eruption pattern of primary and permanent teeth. (1)

Typically, three types of dental radiographs are commonly used on a routine basis. These x-rays include bitewing, periapical and panoramic.

During a routine dental examination, a dentist takes two to four bitewings which shows the crown portions of both the upper and lower teeth on a single x-ray film.

Bitewings are used to check for incipient caries, interdental bone loss, and tooth decay.

Periapical radiographs provide the best view of root tips to check for abscess formation, loss of bone height due to periodontal involvement and to check the extent of tooth decay or cavity on the teeth.

Panoramic radiographs are slightly different from the other two dental x-rays.

Panoramic x-rays are taken extra-orally, and this radiograph captures the image of the entire oral cavity on one large x-ray film.

This radiograph is very useful to diagnose tooth impactions, the formation of any jaw cysts or tumors, bone irregularities, eruption rate of permanent teeth in children, and temporomandibular joint disorders.

A less common type of dental x-ray is an occlusal radiograph which is occasionally taken in children while evaluating their developing teeth.

Orthodontists use a particular kind of radiograph called the cephalometric x-ray to check the occlusal relationship of the teeth.

Dental x-rays are one of the essential tools of diagnostic aid that help to give the dentist a thorough detail about a particular dental condition.

For new patients, the radiographic evaluation may include a full series of two to four bitewings, multiple periapical radiographs, and a panoramic image to assess the current oral health status.

This information can be used as a baseline for future treatments. (2)

Dental radiograph safety

Dental x-ray machines are well equipped with all the safety gears to minimize the radiation.

This way, the process of dental radiography becomes safe with negligible exposure to the body.

With the advancement in dental technology, digital x-rays have become a popular choice of dental radiography in many dental offices.

These new means of dental radiograph further minimizes the radiation exposure, maintaining the safety and efficacy of the dental x-ray. (3)

A lead apron is commonly used to cover the abdominal area of the patient, while lead collars are used to protect the thyroid gland.

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This precautionary measure is recommended by The American Dental Association, which ensures total safety of the patient, especially during pregnancy or breastfeeding. (4)

Dental x-rays have a very crucial role in providing the best possible care for the patients.

You can discuss more this with your dentist and get the maximum benefit out of this diagnostic tool.

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