Almost everyone knows what an X-ray is, but what you may not realize is how they work, and what they can say about your body and your health. Like with any bone in your body, getting dental X-rays can provide dentists and oral surgeons with valuable insight on what’s going on in your mouth.
And while X-ray technology isn’t new, the digital revolution and evolutions in technology offer dentists new ways to view, share, and store the files on their patients. One important innovation is the ability to enlarge digital X-rays, which give a dentist a clearer up-close view of problems happening with your teeth. This means you’ll get a better and earlier diagnosis, which could save you money and a toothache later on. These digital X-rays are also faster – not requiring a lengthy process time – which means you get out of the dentist’s chair quicker than ever before.
Get to know the two types of dental X-rays, and what they give the dentist insight into:
Types of X-Rays – Intraoral and Extraoral
Your mouth, jaw, and teeth are comprised of several different parts, so in order to check everywhere in that area, different types of X-rays are needed. The two main types are intraoral and extraoral X-rays.
Intraoral X-rays include:
- Occlusal X-rays. These give the dentist a look at tooth placements and how they’ve developed. The end product is a complete view of the entire upper or lower jaw. The complete arch of the teeth is revealed, telling the story of how your teeth grew. This can show any long term problems you’ve had or predict if you’re going to have dental problems later.
- Periapical X-rays. Periapical X-rays aim just at a single tooth. From the crown at the top to the root underneath it all. The periapical X-ray gives the dentist all the information on a specific tooth, pointing out any abnormalities in the root area or bone structure.
- Bite-wing X-rays. Bite-wing X-rays are as they sound, an X-ray of your bite. These show the dentist a lot about the details of your dental health. Changes in bone density related to gum disease can’t hide from a bite-wing X-ray, and any decay between teeth can be noticed.
Extraoral X-rays include:
- Cone-beam computerized tomography (CBCT). CBCT is a three-dimensional image of the inner structure of your mouth.
- Sialography involves a dye being injected into the salivary glands. This would only be done if you have issues with your salivary glands.
- Multi-slice computed tomography. Multi-slice computed tomography is where a range of dental layers is blurred out, which gives the dentist the ability to focus on something specific.
- Panoramic X-rays. Panoramic X-rays include the whole head. The machine rotates around to take a look at everything in your mouth, from wisdom teeth to bone structure, tumours to cysts.
In the end…
Ultimately, the X-ray you’ll need next time you visit the dentist’s office will largely depend on the tooth troubles you’re facing, but it’s important to understand the role X-rays play in your dental care, and how they can help you maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. When coming in for your next visit, share any issues you’re having with Dr. Civin, and be sure to ask questions about any X-rays we’ll be taking on your mouth.