Why do I need X-rays?

Dental X-rays, or radiographs, help us visualize diseases of the teeth and surrounding tissue that cannot be seen with a simple oral exam. In addition, X-rays help us find and treat dental problems early in their development, which can potentially save you money and unnecessary discomfort.

In adults, dental X-rays can be used to:

  • Show areas of decay that may not be visible with an oral exam, especially small areas of decay between teeth
  • Identify decay occurring beneath an existing filling
  • Reveal bone loss that accompanies gum disease
  • Reveal changes in the bone or in the root canal resulting from infection
  • Assist in the preparation of tooth implants, braces, dentures, or other dental procedures
  • Reveal an abscess (an infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth)

In children, dental X-rays can be used to:

  • Watch for decay
  • Determine if there is enough space in the mouth to fit all incoming teeth
  • Determine if primary teeth are being lost quickly enough to allow permanent teeth to come in properly
  • Check for the development of wisdom teeth and identify if the teeth are impacted (unable to emerge through the gums)
  • Reveal other developmental abnormalities, such as cysts and some types of tumors

Worried about radiation from X-rays? X-rays have changed over time and the radiation you receive from an X-ray is nominal. Below is a chart comparing X-rays to radiation you get in your every day life:

Everyday Radiation

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