Why Do We Do X-Rays?

Have you ever wondered why the dentist is so insistent on updating your dental x-rays every couple of years? No, we don’t want x-rays as a way to pad your bill — we need these digital pictures of the teeth, bones, and surrounding soft tissues to find cavities, bone loss, and hidden dental problems and structures (like wisdom teeth). Dentists need this information in order to diagnose and treat problems that we can’t see with our naked eye.

Do you remember shoving that hard, square piece of film in your mouth and then waiting and waiting for the x-rays to develop? Digital x-ray sensors are much more comfortable and we don’t have to wait for films to develop – the image is instant! This technology is very convenient for both doctor and patient when performing treatments such as root canal therapy.

  • Periapical x-rays show the entire tooth and the bone below that supports the tooth. These x-rays help us find problems below the gum line or in the jaw such as impacted teeth, tumors or bone changes. This series of x-rays is usually taken at the patients first visit.
  • Bitewing x-rays are taken periodically and help us check for decay between teeth and help show if the bite is in proper alignment. They can also show bone loss from gum disease or if an infection is present.
  • Panoramic x-rays are a terrific tool for dentists. These x-rays show us a full panoramic view of the jaws, teeth, sinus and nasal area and the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint or TMJ).
  • Cone Beam CT is a highly advanced form of imaging. Cone beam technology provides a three-dimensional, digital image of structures beneath the surface of the teeth and gums. This view includes teeth roots, internal canals, and bone structure. CBCT (Cone-Beam Computed Tomography) scans are similar in detail to traditional medical CTs, but taken in a fraction of the time and are highly targeted meaning very low radiation exposure.

Radiation exposure from digital x-rays is very low. Flying across country in an airplane exposes us to more radiation than a complete set of digital x-rays. Without x-rays it is impossible for dentists to diagnose and treat many oral health problems such as broken teeth, tooth decay, bone loss or bone changes due to disease, cysts, tumors and infections.

Schedule your next appointment by contacting Asheville cosmetic dentist Dr. John Highsmith today at 828-627-9282.

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