What is an x-ray? An x-ray is a quick test that produces images of the structures in your body, such as your bones and teeth. During this painless procedure, x-ray beams pass through your body and are absorbed at different rates based on the materials they encounter. The different rates of absorption show up as varying shades of gray on the resulting image, giving health professionals a picture of the body part that is being imaged.
Why do I need x-rays of my teeth? In dentistry, x-rays are used as a diagnostic tool that gives your dentist an idea of what’s going on beneath the surface of your teeth and other areas that are hard to see. While your care team can determine a lot of information from a visual examination, sometimes you can't see surface decay, especially when it's between the teeth. X-rays are useful for showing decay in these areas. The frequency with which x-rays are taken depends on factors such as your age, dental history and risk of oral disease.
Are x-rays safe? Because x-rays use radiation, some people question the safety of the procedure. However, the radiation used in dental procedures is very small, especially when compared to exposure from procedures performed in the hospital and other medical settings. In fact, you’ll likely get more radiation exposure from spending the day at the lake than you would from getting an x-ray taken.
What if I’m pregnant? Dental x-rays are safe for both expectant mothers and their unborn children. But to put a pregnant patient’s mind at ease, two lead aprons can be worn and limited x-rays can be performed as added precautions.
What’s the difference between digital and film x-rays? There are two types of x-rays that are common in dental offices: digital and film. Film has been used in dentistry for many years. When the radiation from the x-ray machine goes through your teeth in this method, it hits a piece of film, much like that used in old cameras. But unlike camera film, which is sensitive to light, this kind of film is sensitive to radiation. Dense structures, like metal fillings, will show up as white, while less dense structures, such as decayed tooth matter, will appear in gray or even black.
The move toward digital x-rays is more recent. Instead of developing film, this type of x-ray produces a digital copy straight to a computer. The resulting image is created within seconds, limiting the time that a patient has to wait during an appointment. Another major benefit is that they typically use significantly less radiation than film procedures, limiting a patient’s exposure. Digital x-rays are also more environmentally friendly, as they do not use films and acid to develop the images, eliminating the waste that is thrown away after each use.
At our office, we use digital x-rays to take pictures of your teeth. Through the use of the Dexis computer program, we’re able to limit your exposure to radiation and decrease your wait time while producing high quality images to benefit your dental health.
Digital X-ray Sensor
Will I have x-rays done during my visit? At our office, we recommend that adults have a full set of x-rays done about every five years, so it’s rare that you will have a complete set taken during any given visit. However, we do believe it’s important to do a few select images about once a year for adults and every six months for children. This allows us to identify any cavities before you even feel pain so that we can treat them before they become a bigger problem.
When you come in for a routine appointment and your hygienist sees that you haven’t had x-rays done recently, she will explain the process to you and answer any questions. Then all you have to do is close your mouth down on our x-ray sensor holder, the machine will snap a picture and within seconds you’ll be able to see images of your teeth.
If you have any additional questions regarding our x-ray equipment or dental radiation in general, please don’t hesitate to ask during your visit or call us at any time. We are more than happy to give you the information you need to feel completely comfortable during your x-rays.