What Are Dental X-Rays Used For? 

added on: February 19, 2021
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We’re all used to showing our teeth off for photographs. But when it comes to your dentist in The Woodlands, we’re more interested in you smiling for a different kind of picture — dental x-rays. Chances are you’ve experienced these diagnostic images at your dental appointments, but what exactly are dental x-rays used for?  

A Closer Look at Dental X-Rays

There’s not much difference between dental x-rays and ones a physician may take of your leg or arm. X-rays in general use energy to capture images of dense areas inside the body such as bones. Dental x-rays, in particular, are used to show the teeth and bones surrounding the mouth and can help your dentist in The Woodlands find problems or potential problems. 

Types of Dental X-Rays

Even though all dental x-rays will show your dentist hard areas in your mouth, there are a variety of different types of x-rays that are used to show different things. 

  • Bitewing X-Rays – Can show your dentist the top and bottom teeth in a specific section of your mouth in the same photo.
  • Periapical X-Rays – These images show the entire tooth from the top of the crown to the tip of the root. 
  • Occlusal X-Rays – Show the top (roof) or bottom (floor) of a mouth. 
  • Panoramic X-Rays – Displaying an all-encompassing view, panoramic x-rays show the entire mouth from left to right and even up into the sinuses and down into the jaws. 

How Do X-Rays Help Your Dentist? 

Taking a deeper view into the mouth can help your dentist in The Woodlands see problematic areas before they even show any outward signs or symptoms. When dental problems are caught early, it makes treatment easier and relieves the patient from experiencing potential pain that probably would have resulted from letting a problem go. Here are a few things your dentist can see with the help of x-rays. 

  • Cavities 

If you’ve ever had a cavity that has progressed into a larger area of decay, you probably noticed some sensitivity or pain in the area. These types of cavities can usually be seen with the naked eye. However, when cavities are still teeny tiny or are wedged in between teeth, they can show no signs and may be missed during a visual exam. This is where x-rays can make a huge difference. X-rays can show these cavities early when treatment is easy.

  • Infections

Infections inside a tooth, also known as an abscess, can be a real pain — literally. So when a patient has a toothache or throbbing tooth pain, their dentist will probably start by taking a few x-rays to get a better idea of what’s going on. X-rays can show deep into the tooth roots and will highlight infections. An abscess may require a root canal, potentially a dental crown, or even an extraction. 

  • Bone Loss 

Besides teeth, our jawbones are also an important part of our overall oral health. After all, they help hold our teeth in place. But things like age, osteoporosis, gum disease, and prior tooth loss can weaken the bone structure, most of the time without you even knowing it. Dental x-rays can show the progression of bone loss and help your dentist find a solution that’s right for you. 

Dental x-rays are a safe way to identify problems lurking below the surface. Depending on your specific needs and health history, your dentist may recommend taking x-rays anywhere from every six months to every three years. 

We’re always accepting new patients at both of our dental offices on Panther Creek and Medical Plaza Drive.