A Little Ray Goes a Long Way Tiny Dose, Big Help. One of the most common things associated with going to the dentist is having x-rays taken. Despite some exaggerated concerns about radiation exposure, a dental x-ray procedure is actually an extremely safe, helpful means of viewing the inside of your teeth and accompanying oral structures. In reality, due to the high-speed film used in a dental x-ray, the amount of ionizing radiation passed along to the patient is so minimal as to be less than what you’d naturally be exposed to in the atmosphere during about an eight-week period. Of course, our staff removes themselves when taking x-rays as a precaution to avoid compounding the effect of the many thousands of doses to which they’re exposed during the course of a dental career.
Tiny Ray, Big News. Dental radiographs or x-rays provide us with valuable information because while the rays pass harmlessly through human bodies, they are absorbed by the denser parts of your mouth (ie. teeth and bone), prior to striking an image on specially prepared radiographic film. In fact, the x-rays we take help us see what’s going on underneath your teeth and gums, between your teeth, under worn-out fillings and crowns, and around receding bone levels or abscesses. We simply capture this information by placing special film packets both inside and outside of your mouth. After the x-ray is taken, cavities and gum disease show up on the film as dark places on the white teeth and bone images, because more x-rays have penetrated in those spots.
Tiny Signs, Big Decisions. In addition to helping us troubleshoot problems in your teeth and gums, a full set of x-rays also helps us document the present status of your dental health. This is important both for immediate care decisions, as well as to establish a baseline from which to monitor changes over time. Depending on your age, risk for disease, and other pertinent signs and symptoms of your individual health situation, we’ll determine when to take further radiographs at recall visits. We typically repeat x-rays more often to monitor bite changes in elderly patients and to keep up with developmental changes in children.