Dental X-rays are helpful in identifying the beginnings of tooth decay, checking for available space in the jaw and revealing abscesses or infections in their earliest stages. However, in an effort to reduce unnecessary radiation exposure, dentists schedule them at varying intervals in accordance with the patient’s needs. Depending on your age, family history and personal dental health, dentists may require them anywhere from once every six months to once every few years. Learn more about the types of dental X-rays, their purpose and when to expect them at every stage in life.
What are the Different Types?
Dental X-rays are classified into two main types: intraoral and extraoral. Intraoral involves placing the film inside the mouth to examine detailed tooth growth, while extraorals are taken outside of the mouth to provide a wider-range picture of the jaw.
How Do they Help?
Dentists are trained to spot even the slightest signs of tooth decay, but some infections are impossible to identify with the naked eye. When problems arise in between teeth, beneath fillings, under the gums and in the tooth’s roots, an X-ray is the best diagnostic tool available.
When dentists are constructing tooth implants, dentures, braces, retainers and any other oral device, an X-ray can guide them so the resulting product matches the size and shape of your mouth perfectly. The pictures are also used to determine if orthodontic work is necessary, alerting parents to a lack of space in their child’s mouth, which can help them plan for the future.
This testing can also reveal early signs of oral cancer. Tumors and cysts may not show outwardly, but X-rays instantly identify serious abnormalities in cases where early detection can make a difference in treatment outcomes.
Schedule for Children
In patients of all ages, qualified dentists adhere to guidelines established by the American Dental Association when scheduling this type of testing, utilizing it only as often as needed to establish a professional diagnosis. Dentists should only administer X-rays to children under 5 years of age every year or two, unless they have a history of tooth decay, then every six to 12 months is better.
Children ages 6 to 12 and adolescents who have not yet grown in all of their wisdom teeth should get X-rays every one to three years, or every six to 18 months if they have a high risk or proven history of tooth decay.
Dentists recommend that all adults with a history of periodontal disease get X-rays every six months to monitor potential tooth decay and stay informed on all aspects of individual oral health. Other situations may also warrant constant attention, such as if the patient has dry mouth, smokes, or has extensive filling work.
All other adults may only get X-rays once per year or less, unless the dentist spots the beginnings of a problem.
Remember, as the patient, you should have the final say on your oral health. Build a relationship with a dental team who values your health concerns and takes every step to ensure you are comfortable with the care you are receiving. Trust Oak Hills Dental to provide you and your family with timely dental X-rays and comprehensive tooth care.