X-Rays

 

As a new patient you will have 4 intraoral bitewing x-rays taken to evaluate between your teeth and a panoramic film or a full mouth series (FMX).  The panoramic film shows all the teeth, jaws, sinuses and bone levels.  Once you are an established patient, you will have 4 bitewings every year and a new panoramic x-ray or FMX every 5-7 years depending on your insurance plan.

Radiographs are an important part of your comprehensive dental care.  They are important for the following reasons:

  • Show areas of decay that your dentist may not be able to see with just a visual examination, such as tiny pits of decay that might occur between teeth or decay that is developing underneath an existing filling or crown. (See image below)
     


 

  • Find damage in an existing filling
  • Alert the dentist to possible bone loss associated with periodontal (gum) disease
  • Reveal problems in the root canal, such as infection or death of the nerve
  • Help your dentist plan, prepare and place tooth implants, orthodontic treatments, dentures or other dental work
  • Reveal other abnormalities such as cysts, cancer and changes associated with metabolic and systemic diseases (such as Paget's disease and lymphoma)
  • For children, radiographs are used to watch for decay and to monitor tooth growth and development. Dentists will use periodic X-rays to see whether a space in the mouth will fit all the new teeth, whether primary teeth are being lost quickly enough to allow permanent teeth to erupt properly, whether extra (supernumerary) teeth are developing or whether any teeth are impacted (unable to emerge through the gums). Often, major problems can be prevented by catching small developmental problems early and then making accommodations.


Our office uses phosphor plates and digital x-rays which greatly reduce your exposure to radiation versus the older traditional x-rays.


 


How Often Should Your Teeth Be X-rayed?

Even though no X-ray can be considered routine, many people require X-rays on a regular basis so that their dental condition can be monitored. Exactly how often this happens will depend on your medical and dental history and current condition. Some people may need X-rays as often as every six months. For others, X-rays may not be needed for as long as two years. In patients with no recent dental or gum disease and who visit the dentist regularly for check-ups, X-rays may be taken only every five years or so.

Who needs more frequent or regular radiographs?

  • Children - Many children need X-rays every six months to one year, depending on age, because they are highly likely to develop caries. X-rays also help monitor tooth development.
  • Adults with extensive restoration work, including fillings - All the conditions that helped create the caries to begin with continue, making it necessary to check for decay beneath existing fillings or in new locations.
  • Anyone who drinks sugary sodas, chocolate milk or coffee or tea with sugar - Even mildly sugary beverages create an environment in the mouth that's perfect for decay, so anyone who drinks these beverages regularly will need to have more regular X-rays.
  • People with periodontal (gum) disease - Periodontal treatments may need to be stepped up if there are significant or continuing signs of bone loss.
  • People who are taking medications that lead to dry mouth, also called xerostomia - Saliva helps keep the acid levels (pH) in the mouth stable. In a dry mouth, the pH decreases, causing the minerals in the teeth to break down, leaving them prone to caries. Medications that can decrease saliva are those prescribed for hypertension, antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, antihistamines, diuretics, narcotics, anticonvulsants and anticholinergics.
  • People who have dry mouth because of disease, such as Sjögren's syndrome, or because of medical treatments that damaged the salivary glands, such as radiation to the head and neck for cancer treatment.
  • Smokers, because smoking increases the risk of periodontal disease.
(Info from Colgate.com)