Digital X-Rays: Your Dental Detective

Good dentistry takes detective work. Of all the special tools we have that help us detect potential problems, the most effective is the radiograph, or x-ray. You might think of an x-ray as a dental detective, as it magnifies what the eye can’t see, exposing tooth decay that hides between teeth, under the gumline, or under fillings and caps. An x-ray can also reveal bone loss caused by gum disease, abscesses, cysts, tumors, and even early signs of cancer. Our rule of thumb? It’s always easier and less expensive to prevent or treat dental disease in the early stages than it is later when it can cause serious damage.

X-rays have been an essential part of dentistry for decades. Taking these images allows us, your dentist in Forest Hill, to accurately diagnose and treat problems. Without them, it would be impossible for our team to see inside of and between your teeth, both of which are areas not visible during your routine dental exam.

They help us see the roots, the gumline, and the bone level of your mouth.

How did x-ray technology evolve?

X-rays were first discovered in the late 1800’s by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, a university professor in Germany. One of his first experiments – using the power of electronic magnetic radiation – was to x-ray his wife’s hand. However, the first real use of an x-ray was for industrial purposes – Roentgen developed a radiograph of weights in a box.

Fast forward nearly 100 years later… It wasn’t until the mid-1980’s when digital dental x-rays first appeared on the clinical scene. Nearly all dental practices today rely on digital imaging to take their patients’ x-rays as it offers many important advantages.

  • A digital x-ray emits a special low-level radiation (up to 90% less radiation) similar to the type of background radiation you receive from the sun, the earth’s crust, various types of food, and even the air we breathe. At our practice, you can take comfort knowing that we will inform you as to why an x-ray is necessary. Rest assured, we don’t take them simply for the fun of it!
  • Unlike film-based x-rays, digital x-rays do not require chemical film processing, therefore, there’s…
    • no harmful environmental waste – and here at Park Ridge Dental Associates, that’s a good thing because we care about our planet!
    • results are instantly available
    • enlargement for clarification is easy (and there’s no distortion) – this ensures the best, most accurate diagnosis
    • we can use them as teaching aids, helping us to explain the situation to you–we take pride in keeping all our patients informed about what is happening with their smiles. You want to feel confident in us and the care we provide you. Most patients are fascinated by seeing the image on screen and find the visual helps them understand exactly what’s happening in their mouth.
    • easily emailed to your insurance company – this eliminates the need to send paper copies, which speeds up the process of submitting claims.
    • efficiently stored in our records and recall is quick – and we can also send them to referring dentists or consultants at the click of a button.

How do we take digital x-rays?

For dental patients, taking a digital x-ray is much like taking a film x-ray. We’ll adjust the x-ray machine into the correct position to capture a specific part of your mouth. An x-ray is a standard procedure for new patients coming in for their first exam.

Types of digital x-rays:

  1. Bitewing –You’ll bite down on a special paper. This x-ray is taken on either side of the mouth – two on the left side and two on the right side.The x-ray shows us how well your teeth match up. It’s ideal for detecting cavities in between teeth. There’s absolutely no pain involved – for this or other x-rays – and it only takes seconds to complete.
  2. Occlusal – Taken with a closed jaw, the occlusal x-ray reveals how your top and bottom teeth line up. It can also show us abnormalities in the mouth floor and the palate. If you’re wearing dentures or a retainer, we will remove them before taking the x-ray. If you wear eye glasses, you’ll need to take them off. Again, we flip a switch and before you know it, the x-ray is done!
  3. Periapical – The focus of this x-ray is on two complete teeth, crown to root.
  4. Full-Mouth:This x-ray, which utilizes 18 films, captures the inside of your entire mouth.

In short, digital radiography is highly accurate, fast, efficient, clean, and safe to use. They go a long way in helping us detect dental issues early on, which can save you time, money, and discomfort in the long run. If you have questions about your “dental detective,” ask us, your dentist in Forest Hill! Call Brush Floss & Smile at 647-691-2213 today!