A dental exam is a process or a type of visit to check for any signs of poor oral health or cosmetic concerns. Dental exams are encouraged for all patients, two or three times a year, regardless of the current status of oral health. Learning what is involved in a dental exam can help prepare…
Reasons an X-ray is Sometimes Included in a Teeth Cleaning
You may be wondering why an x-ray may be necessary during a teeth cleaning appointment with the dentist. The truth is, x-rays allow dentists to look beyond the surface and see what is invisible to the naked eyes. This article covers the importance of x-rays and other important points that are worth knowing.
Going beyond the surface
X-rays involve taking images with high-energy electromagnetic radiation. Soft, low-density tissues such as the skin and organs do not absorb the radiation, so it passes through them. The denser and hard materials in the body, including the bone and teeth, can absorb the radiation. With special films or digital sensors, it is possible to measure the absorption and turn it into an image.
This is the essence of dental x-rays. It allows the dentist to see beyond the tissues to the oral cavity, such as the gums to the deeper parts of the teeth and jawbone. This allows the dentist to discover indications of oral health issues that may not be obvious during a visual examination and plan treatment accordingly.
The type of x-ray taken by the dentist during the appointment depends on the nature of the visit. X-rays can be therapeutic and diagnostic. During a routine teeth cleaning and checkup appointment, therapeutic x-rays are usually used. The purpose of the x-ray is to give the dentist a holistic view of the teeth and supporting structures, which enables them to check for possible signs of oral health problems that may necessitate further evaluation.
Many dental offices take panoramic x-rays with digital radiography, which provides the dental professional with a full overview of the teeth. Some offices may use multiple bitewing x-rays, which provides an image of different parts of the teeth.
Diagnostic x-rays are somewhat different. They are usually necessary when planning an extensive dental procedure. For instance, if the patient is undergoing a root canal, the dentist may take a “periapical” diagnostic x-ray. This x-ray is designed specifically to obtain a detailed image of the entire tooth, right from the crown to the root.
The frequency of x-rays during appointments
Before now, dentists typically recommended x-rays every year. However, the American Dental Association recommends that healthy adults with no serious oral condition only need to get x-rays every 2 to 3 years. This means that if the teeth are healthy and free of issues such as cavities or gum disease, the dentist will only need to take x-rays once in a while. However, if they discover evidence of oral health problems, they may need to take an x-ray of the oral cavity during a teeth cleaning appointment.
When overdue for a dental cleaning and checkup, individuals should book an appointment with the general dentist as soon as possible. With teeth cleaning, you can stay on top of your dental health and maintain healthy gums and teeth. If the dentist thinks taking an x-ray is in order, they will explain the reason behind their decision.
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