Radiographic, or X-ray, examinations provide your dentist with an important tool that shows the condition of your teeth, its roots, jaw placement and the overall composition of your facial bones. X-rays can help your dentist determine the presence or degree of periodontal (gum) disease, abscesses and many abnormal growths, such as cysts and tumors. X-rays also can show the exact location of impacted and unerupted teeth. They can pinpoint the location of cavities and other signs of disease that may not be possible to detect through a visual examination.
Your radiographic schedule is based on your dentist’s assessment of your individual needs, including whether you’re a new patient or a follow-up patient, adult or child. In most cases, new patients require a full set of mouth X-rays to evaluate oral health status, including any underlying signs of gum disease, and for future comparison. Follow-up patients may require X-rays to monitor their gum condition or their chance of tooth decay.
Dental X-rays require exposure to very low levels of radiation, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very small. All health care providers are sensitive to patients’ concerns about exposure to radiation. Your dentist has been trained to prescribe X-rays when they are appropriate and to tailor radiographic schedules to each patient’s individual needs. By using state-of-the-art technology and by staying knowledgeable about recent advances, your dentist knows which techniques, procedures and X-ray films can minimize your exposure to radiation.
Updated: October 2008