Why are X-Rays Needed at a Dental Checkup?

Posted on: November 22, 2018

Radiographic examinations of the mouth and teeth, or dental x-rays play an important role in the diagnosis and management of various dental conditions. The dentists use these radiographs to detect issues that may not be seen through visual examination. Dental x-rays can capture images of the tooth root, jaw, and supporting structures. They help detect tooth decay, gum disease, infection, bone loss, and tooth cracks that are not visible to the eye.

The frequency of getting x-rays of the teeth depends on the person's oral health history and current condition. If the person is a new patient, the dentist may require dental x-rays as part of the initial exam to establish a baseline record from which they can compare changes that may occur over time. People that visit the dentist regularly and have no recent dental or gum issues, may only get dental x-rays every two years. Otherwise, some people may need it as often as every six months.

Below we will discuss the types of x-rays and why they are all necessary in order to maintain a healthy oral hygiene. 


There are various types of dental x-rays. Each of them records slightly different views of the mouth. The most common are intraoral x-rays, which include:

– Bitewing: The bitewing x-ray is commonly used to check for cavities between teeth. The dentist may ask you to bite on a special piece of paper so they can see how well your crowns matchup. If some don't match up that may be an indication of a cavity forming.

– Occlusal: The occlusal x-ray captures images of all teeth in one shot. It is used to detect anatomical abnormalities with your palate or the floor of the mouth. The dentist may ask you to tighten your jaw so they can see how the upper and lower teeth line up.

– Periapical: The periapical x-ray focuses on two complete teeth from root to crown. It is used to detect unusual changes in the tooth's root and its surrounding bone structures. If unusual changes are noticed then it may be a sign of the teeth being out of alignment or possible decay beginning to occur. 

The dentist may require extraoral x-rays if they suspect issues in the jaw. The most common extraoral x-ray is the panoramic x-ray, which is used to check the wisdom teeth, investigate jaw issues, or plan for dental implants.

Dental x-rays can expose someone to extremely small doses of radiation. However, not getting dental radiographs can be riskier. A full mouth x-ray series exposes one to only about 1/23 of the radiation that one would be getting from natural resources per year. Advancements in digital x-ray technology have even reduced the radiation further. 

Dental x-rays during checkups are also necessary for your oral health. They help ensure that the teeth and gums are kept healthy. If you are concerned about radiation exposure due to x-rays, visit a dental office. Dentists and their staff are thoroughly trained in taking radiographs of the teeth. Moreover, their equipment is inspected regularly to ensure that it is working properly. When we recommend an x-ray of the mouth, rest assured that it is to safeguard your oral health.

Request an appointment here: https://www.palmbeachdentistry.com or call Palm Beach Dentistry at (561) 272-4110 for an appointment in our Delray Beach office.

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