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Dental Radiology: Purpose and Precautions

X-rays might sound a little extreme for the dentist, but that’s not necessarily the case. From early detection of cavities, decay, gingivitis, and even oral cancers, X-rays are an excellent tool for your dentist to get the full picture of your teeth, gums, and jaw. 

Who needs dental X-Rays?

Everyone needs dental x-rays. X-rays are typically done as soon as you become a patient at a new dental practice to help your new dentist become better acquainted with your current dental health. After your initial exams, x-rays become an annual part of your regular oral exams. Children usually require x-rays more frequently than adults because their jaws and teeth are still  developing to maturity.

Dentists especially need x-rays to perform their job thoroughly. Although their super dentist eyes can spot damage or decay on the surface of teeth and gums from miles away, neither Dr. Brunacini nor Dr. Karagiorgos have x-ray vision! They need a little bit of help to see inside your teeth, gums, and jaw bones to give you the best care possible.

Radiology Precautions

The radiation levels used during dental x-rays are so low that they are completely safe. However, to cover all of the bases, you will be given a lead bib or apron to wear while your x-rays are taken. Although it might not be very stylish, the lead bib or apron acts as a precautionary shield to your vital organs so they can avoid any unnecessary exposure to radiation. 

If you are pregnant or believe that you might be pregnant, you should not have any x-rays done. Please let your hygienist and dentist know if you think or know that you are expecting! 

Types of X-Rays

X-rays images are not only helpful to your dentist–they’re fun to look at. There are four major types of dental x-rays that provide a different map of your mouth:

1. Bitewing: For a bitewing x-ray, the hygienist will have you bite down on a special piece of paper during the x-ray. The resulting image will show how well the crowns of your teeth match when you bite down.   

2. Occlusal: Occlusal x-rays examine your bite–how well your bottom and top teeth line up as well as the structure of your jaw. They also take a close look at the roof and floor of your mouth.

3. Panoramic: This is an exciting x-ray! For a panoramic view, the x-ray machine will rotate slowly around your head to give the dentist a comprehensive view of your entire oral and nasal cavities. 

Three Dimensional Scans take panoramic excitement to new levels. The latest development in dental technology is the CBCT (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) 3D scan. The process of a 3D  is very similar to that of a panoramic: the machine rotates slowly around your head, capturing images of your skull. Instead of traditional x-rays, the CBCT scan uses cone beams (named for their conical shape) to create a 3D model of your entire jaw structure. Like any three dimensional object, the CBCT scan can be rotated and viewed from any angle.

4. Periapical: This type of x-ray gives a big picture of a small surface area. Periapical images zoom in on one or two teeth to show the bone and gum in great detail.

Here at Falmouth Dental Arts, we strive to provide our patients the most comprehensive dental care available. X-rays are a valuable tool for our dentists, hygienists and patients, giving us an in-depth look at teeth, gums, jaw bones and nasal cavities. Regular x-rays allow dentists to predict–and address–oral issues before they become serious complications.

If you have any questions about our dental x-ray procedure or the images themselves, just ask. Dr. Brunacini, Dr. Karagiorgos, and our fabulous hygienist team will be more than happy to answer all of your questions so that you can be just as excited about your x-rays as we are. To schedule your appointment, please call our office at 207.781.5900.