Radio Graphs (X-rays)
What are x-rays used for at the dentist?
Dental x-rays are used to provide your dentist with more knowledge about what is happening in your mouth. They show the bone and tooth structures and are used to help determine the correct treatment needed for each patient.
What are the types of x-rays used at the dentist?
Bite-wing x-rays are taken in the dental chair of the sides and front of your mouth. They show sections of the mouth and show where the structure is weak and play a role in indicating to the dentist needed treatment such as a filling, night guard, crown, root canal, and more. These x-rays are typically taken once per year at your recare appointment (dental hygiene visit that also includes an exam by the dentist).
Panoramic x-rays, pan for short, give a full image of the mouth, teeth, and surrounding structures. These x-rays are typically updated every 5 years unless another factor indicates the need for a new one sooner. They give the full picture to the dentist, indicating more information about the whole mouth area.
PA x-rays are used to view a specific area of the mouth. They would be used if you were to come in with a specific issue (such as a toothache on a specific tooth), or if an area needs to be viewed more directly than what a bite-wing or panoramic x-ray shows.
Are dental x-rays harmful to my body?
A dental x-ray sends less radiation into your body than eating a banana. Radiation in concentrated or high amounts can be harmful to your body, however, the radiation caused by your yearly dental x-rays will not cause you harm.
If you notice your dental hygienist or assistant (the person taking your x-ray) go behind a barrier while capturing the digital image, this is because they are delivering x-rays continuously throughout their work day and are therefore subject to more radiation.