Dental X-rays are images of your teeth that your dentist uses to know about the cause of infection or evaluate your oral health. It is a common diagnostic procedure that is considered safe and can help your dentist identify problems like – tooth decay, cavities, and infected teeth.
Most people think that dental X-rays are harmful due to radiation. What people do not know is that the amount of radiation they are exposed to is quite low. For instance, just being in the sun for long hours exposes you to higher radiation than this process would.
A] How Much Radiation is There in a Dental X-ray?
Every day we’re exposed to radiation from cell phones, aeroplanes, and sunrays. When you’re exposed to dental X-ray and get a set of bitewing X-ray (the images that are taken by your dentist to check for any new cavities) the total amount of radiation in this process is only 0.005 MSV which is less than the average dose of radiation in a day. Also, most digital X-rays nowadays require lesser radiation to capture a high-resolution image, so the whole procedure is safe.
B] Types of Dental X-rays
- Periapical X-ray
This is the most common type of dental X-ray. The dentist uses it to check the health of your tooth from the crown to the root anchored with the jawbone. It is especially used to check for abnormalities within your root structure and the surrounding bone region.
- Occlusal X-ray
This is used to keep a track of the development and placement of the entire arch of teeth on your lower & upper jaw. They include the baby teeth X-ray in this process, which is used to find infected teeth.
- Bitewing X-ray
It gives a detailed view of the lower and upper teeth in one region of your mouth. It covers the crown and supporting bone region. The X-ray checks for decay in between your tooth area and also checks for wear within the dental fillings.
- Panoramic X-ray
It helps to take a detailed image of your entire oral cavity. It helps to show the placement of impacted teeth and emerged teeth within the same image. It is also used to check the development of wisdom teeth in children and diagnose tumours.
Click here to know more about Dental X-ray services in Sunshine Coast.
C] How Many Dental X-rays Can You Have in a Year?
This depends on the dental issues. Dentists need to evaluate this based on the patient’s history. Some people with lots of dental problems or who are at a higher risk of cavities need frequent dental X-rays for examination.
- Children who are not at the risk of getting cavities or who follow good oral hygiene should get the dental X-ray done every one or two years.
- Teens that are not at high risk should get an X-ray done every two to three years.
- The process is similar for adults; they should get it done every one or two years.
D] Dental X-ray Myths
- Dental X-rays can cause cancer
The risk of developing cancer from a single dental X-ray is almost negligible. The radiation of the X-ray is mild, so it won’t affect the mouth or surrounded areas. The risk of cancer is increased when there is prolonged exposure to radiation or X-ray.
When a patient visits a dentist for any issue related to a tooth, an X-ray would take a millisecond. No patient will be exposed to dental X-rays for hours. Besides, most dental clinics follow safety protocols and guidelines.
- Nursing mothers should not undergo dental X-rays
Most people believe that the radioactive particles from the radiation of the X-ray will linger in the body for a long time. And, the radiation will then be passed on from the mother to the child through breastfeeding.
But this not true, as the radiation will not linger in the body after getting an X-ray. The small dose of radiation that is received from the X-ray is insignificant enough to cause any harm to the nursing mother and child.
- Dental X-ray is harmful as it affects the brain
Most people believe that dental X-rays can cause harm to the brain. However, the X-rays are specifically targeted and focuses only on the area where the image is to be generated. The brain will not be exposed to any radiation.
Moreover, the risks of radiation do not depend on the specific areas of the body. They depend on the number of doses received over time i.e. how many X-rays you need to have and not the area.
- Dental X-ray is needed on every visit
The frequency with which you may need a dental X-ray depends on your oral health or infection. If your oral health is good and you have no cavities or other dental issues, then you don’t need to get X-rays. Dental X-rays are mostly needed if there is an unstable dental situation which your dentist needs to monitor closely.
#Are There Alternatives to Dental X-rays?
There are a few options available if you don’t want to go with the dental X-rays. Understanding the importance of visualization, holistic dentists have found alternatives to provide quality imaging without radiation. Some popular alternatives are:
- Thermal Imaging
The thermal imaging process uses a heat map to identify potential problems. There are two types – cold area and hot area.
- A cold area means that there is a lack of blood flow.
- A hot area indicates that there is an infection in the area.
The thermal imaging process allows the dentists to target areas of impaction, root concern, or infection without radiation. The thermal image process simply converts the infrared radiation to visible images that depict the normal distribution of temperature.
It is an effective and radiation-free way to detect oral infections. On a thermal image, the infection may appear in a higher pattern.
- Near-infrared Imaging
Near-infrared imaging, also known as NIR is still new to the dental industry. The infrared light makes the tooth enamel appear to be transparent while the cavities trap the light making them more visible.
The dentist can see through the image and then visualize its structure. The system allows dentists for higher resolution imaging to conventional dental X-rays. It helps to display the sub-surface cavities that are around the fillings making them more visible.
The imaging also displays tooth deformities such as dissolving surface enamels and fractures. It can be an important diagnostic tool for dentists.
- Cone-beam Computed Tomography
Cone-beam computed tomography is one holistic method that has been used for over a decade. The technology is well capable of providing a clear 3D image of teeth, nerve pathways, soft tissues, and bone all in a single shot.
Though it is effective, it has created controversy in the dental industry for its use as it is not radiation-free. But, if you compare it with traditional radiographs, then this is in a more targeted form.
#Prepping for Dental X-rays,
Dental X-rays require no special preparation; you just need to brush your teeth before you visit your dentist for an X-ray. It creates a more hygienic environment for both you and your dentist.
The X-ray machine is always positioned alongside your head to record the image of your mouth so you must sit comfortably without moving.
Dental X-rays are not harmful, as the radiation is negligible. So, don’t get scared the next time you may require one, talk to your dentist about it.