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Why should you get a dental X-ray done?

Dental or oral health is an important component of overall health, and current technology has elevated dental care to a whole new level.

In India, 80-90 per cent of adults suffer dental cavities, which are often accompanied by misaligned teeth and other issues. Inadequate oral hygiene, which can lead to dental cavities and gum disease, has been related to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is therefore of primary importance.

Dr Sunita Kapoor, Director, and Consultant Pathologist at City X-ray & Scan Clinic tells IANSlife the significance of regular dental visits and how dental X-rays can help dentists discover potential decay or problems that are not visible to the naked eye.

What are dental X-rays?

Dr Sunita: Internal images of your teeth and jaws can be seen in dental X-rays. They give a dentist a clear image of your hard tissues, i.e., teeth and bones, and the soft tissues that surround your teeth and jawbones. Typically, dentists use X-rays to evaluate structures like your nerves, jawbone, teeth roots, sinuses, etc. that they can’t see during a regular checkup.

What can they show?

Dr Sunita: Dental X-rays can reveal cysts and other types of tumours, small areas of decay in between teeth, and the position of teeth, which can help decide whether braces, dentures, or tooth implants are necessary. Besides, dental X-rays can also show decay beneath fillings and bone loss in the jaw due to periodontal diseases.

What are the different types of dental X-rays?

Dr Sunita: There are two main types of dental X-rays-intraoral and extraoral. In intraoral, the film or sensor is inside your mouth and in extraoral, the film or sensor is outside your mouth. Intraoral X-rays include Bitewing X-rays, Periapical X-rays, and Occlusal X-rays. Extraoral X-rays include Panoramic X-rays, Cephalometric X-rays, and Cone Beam CT scans (CBCT).

Bitewing, periapical, and panoramic radiographs are the most frequent ones. While Periapical X-rays are useful for focusing on just one or two teeth, Bitewing X-rays are done to locate early signs of decay between back teeth or bicuspids (teeth in front of the molars). Using a panoramic X-ray, the entire mouth is visible in one picture. It’s taken from outside of your mouth and can help identify issues like cysts, jaw disorders, or bone irregularities.

Are dental X-rays safe?

Dr Sunita: These X-rays are safe if used judiciously. While low radiation levels are there, there are no harmful effects associated with them. In fact, that amount of radiation is comparable to the amount of radiation you get or absorb from things like TV, smartphones, and computers.

Most dentists usually avoid taking X-rays during pregnancy unless it is absolutely necessary.

How often you should get dental X-rays?

Dr Sunita: Most people with healthy teeth and gums should have dental X-rays only after the advice of a dentist. However, you may need more frequent X-rays if you have gum disease, recurring decay, or other time-sensitive oral health issues.

X-rays are an integral component of an effective dental care plan. It is a diagnostic procedure that helps detect potential dental care problems at an early stage before they cause major health implications. Based on your dental and oral health, you can ask your dentist how frequently you should have a dental X-ray.

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