Technological advancements have made it possible to use a radiographic technique known as digital imaging to examine oral issues and store the images on a computer. Dental radiographs are digital images that dentists use to evaluate oral health. This is made possible by using dental x rays that are used with low radiation levels to capture your teeth and gum’s interior parts. Though it might appear complicated, digital imaging and x-rays are vital as they help your dentist identify teeth problems that cannot be identified with an oral exam. If you are in Northridge, get in touch with Northridge Dentist for excellent dental services using our cutting edge technology and tools.
Types of Problems That X-Rays Detect
Through X-rays, dentists can diagnose different oral problems.
In adults, X-rays shows:
- Small decay areas between teeth
- Decay between fillings
- Jaw bone loss
- Bone or root canal infection
- Cysts and tumors
- Position and condition of teeth to help prepare for dental procedures like braces and tooth implants
In children, X-ray shows:
- Developing decay
- Wisdom teeth development
- They check if teeth can merge through the gum
- They also show if all the developing teeth will fit in the mouth properly
How Often Should Teeth be X Rayed?
Dental radiographs are performed yearly, but they can be performed more often if you have a dental infection that your dentist follows up on your progress.
However, different factors determine how often your dental X-rays should be. They include:
- Your oral health
- Your age
- History of gum disease
- Symptoms of oral disease
Children are expected to have more x rays than adults so that their dentist can keep an eye on their adult teeth’ growth. However, people with dental problems also need to have more X-rays. These people include:
- People with a lot of therapeutic work — To look if there is any decay between the fillings
- People with gum disease — To keep track of bone loss
- People who drink sugary beverages — To look for cavities
- People with dry mouth — Whether due to health conditions or medication, dry mouth causes tooth decay
- People who smoke— Smokers have an increased risk of contaminating gum disease. They should be X often rayed to monitor bone loss
Benefits of Digital Dental Imaging
Here are the benefits of dental imaging:
- Less Radiation — Equipment used in Digital Dental Imaging uses more than 80% less radiation than film x-rays, hence exposing dental patients to less radiation. Conventional dental X- rays are safe, but digital radiography is the best option for patients concerned about radiation.
- High-quality images — Viewing traditional X rays can be painful. Digital radiograph allows image enlargement on-screen, allowing better viewing of the teeth structure. Moreso, colors, and brightness can be adjusted to help your dentist identify small cavities. Hard copies of the radiographs can also be printed. This way, the dentist can identify underlying issues with ease and attend to them accordingly.
- Short Dental Appointments — With a digital radiograph, the sensor develops the image and projects it instantly, unlike traditional X rays. You have to wait for your dentist to promote the film. It helps to save time and move on to the treatment phase after the existing condition is identified.
- Smooth Transfer of Dental Records — Digital images can easily be mailed to a dentist for quick review. Digital radiographs are cutting the time and expense of copying files and emailing them to another dentist for review, making it facile to transfer dental records.
- Early Detection of Dental Problems — Digital radiograph helps the dentist detect any dental problem during its early stages, hence fast treatment. This saves pain, discomfort, and money.
- Environment Friendly — With digital imaging, no chemicals are used to develop the film, making it suitable for the environment. There is also no need to store the film, which can sometimes pile up in the dentist's files.
- Immediate viewing — Digital imaging allows the real-time on-screen display of your oral cavities.
- Secure storage of files — Organizing physical paper files can be quite a hustle; talk of misplacements and, even worse, loss. Digital radiography files, on the other hand, are easy to store. They can be organized and placed in a database to be accessed whenever they are needed.
- Time-saving — X-ray images can be accessed as soon as they are taken. Conversely, conventional radiography consumes time during processing. There is no wastage of time trying to locate an image in a stack of paper files. You can access the x-ray image instantly from the storage database.
- Safety — Images are securely stored in a database from which the authorized personnel can access when the need arises. Back-up options can also be duplicated for security purposes.
With low radiation exposure levels, digital X-rays are considered safe for both children and adults. Using digital radiographs rather than developing them on film further reduces the risks of radiation exposure.
To prevent your vital organs from any unnecessary radiation, your dentist will place a lead cloth on your chest, abdomen, and pelvic region. In thyroid conditions, the thyroid collar is used.
However, radiation is not considered safe for a developing fetus. If you are pregnant, it is advisable to stay away from any X-rays. Remember to inform your dentist during your consultation. Safety precautions are always firmly stressed when it comes to the following groups:
It is reasonable and understandable for parents to be concerned about the whole dental x-ray process for their children. While children might be relatively more sensitive to radioactive rays, the amount used in a dental x-ray is clinically considered safe. As a child's dental parts, such as the teeth and jaws, are progressively changing, it is imperative to monitor this development. Consequently, dental x-ray comes in handy for children. It helps in doing the following in children:
- Identifying teeth problems early enough before the damage is too much. If attended to early enough before the spread, issues such as decay would save a child the pain that is likely to result in adverse situations.
- Monitoring how wisdom teeth are developing. Any anomalies can be corrected accordingly.
- Gauge the suitability of a child’s mouth to accommodate growing teeth. The x-ray images can tell whether a child’s mouth is big enough to hold incoming teeth.
- In bigger children, radiography can help monitor the growth of wisdom teeth. If issues are detected early enough, they can be taken care of early enough.
- Radiography in children can also tell whether the primary teeth are loosening as expected in a bid to accommodate incoming permanent teeth.
Consequently, parents must take their children to a credible dentist to determine whether they need radiography, and if they do, they can be taken care of properly. It helps to counter unwarranted dental issues that come to haunt them later in life.
Pregnant women are another critical group whose suitability for dental x-ray hangs in the balance. The general recommendation is that pregnant women keep off any form of radio no matter how small. Any type of radiation can be harmful to the development of the fetus. Before going for dental radiography, it is imperative to notify your dentist if you are pregnant.
However, there are always credible exceptions when even pregnant women need dental x-rays. If a pregnant woman is in the middle of a dental treatment plan or has an unavoidable dental emergency, the x-rays can be taken. There is a need to balance dental health with prenatal health. Moreover, it is common knowledge that women with adverse dental diseases risk having undesirable pregnancy outcomes, hence needing to cater to your dental health even during your pregnancy.
Luckily, if it comes to having x-rays in the middle of your pregnancy, the dentists will always take intensive safety precautions to protect the fetus. You will be dressed in a protective leaded apron and a thyroid collar.
It is crucial to keep your dentist and your doctor updated on any development or health concerns you might have. This helps avoid unwarranted and unappealing issues and helps your doctor or dentist make decisions early enough.
Determining the Necessity of a Digital X-ray
As much as a digital x-ray is beneficial, there is a need to minimize radiation exposure, which could reflect negatively and adversely on a patient in the future. As such, an x-ray should be the last resolve when taking care of your dental health. It should be done when necessary. However, the decision is left to your dentist to examine and establish whether you need an x-ray. Some of the factors that might determine your need for dental x-ray are:
- Your oral health history — If you have a terrible history of oral infections such as oral cancer, you could not be a suitable candidate for a digital x-ray
- The current stage of dental development — Children should have dental x-rays in a bid to monitor their dental progress. Their dental parts are continually evolving, hence the need to ensure they develop accordingly, and there is no better way to achieve this than through dental x-rays.
- Underlying conditions — Unwarranted dental conditions such as cavities and decays present all the need to take a dental x-ray. This way, the adversity can be established and handled head-on.
- Presented symptoms — The symptoms a patient displays also determine their suitability for the x-ray. The most unusual symptoms mean more problems, hence the need for a digital x-ray.
Nevertheless, you should keep in mind the future issues presented by exposure to radiation. Engage your dentist accordingly to make the best decision. According to experts, the best way to establish a dental x-ray is after the visual examination. However, do not forget an x-ray could help identify underlying issues that a physical examination might not.
It is also essential to present your current dentist with a previous x-ray from a different dentist. You might have relocated, and the need to have a dental x-ray arises. These records could help your dentist make informed decisions even after examination. The need for another x-ray could also be ruled out.
Dental x-rays are safe, but you can never be too sure where radiations are involved. As such, it is imperative to engage your dentist. This way, you can learn and understand how they can protect you and yet take care of your dental health.
Preparing for Dental X-Rays
There is no special preparation required. But remember to brush your teeth to create a hygienic environment for the specialists working inside your mouth, though X-rays are performed before cleanings.
You will sit on a chair at the dentists, and a lead cloth will be placed on your chest across your lap. The X-ray machine is placed apace with your head and the record images of your teeth. However, different dentists have different dental practices in their rooms.
Types of X Rays
Different dental X rays record different views of your mouth. There are two major types of dental Xrays: intraoral (performed inside the mouth) and extraoral (performed outside the mouth).
Intraoral X rays — These are the most common types of dental X-rays. There are different types of intraoral X rays. They include:
- Bitewing — This shows the upper and lower teeth condition in a single area of the mouth. Each bitewing views the teeth from the crown to the supporting bones. Bitewing X-ray detects bone loss caused by gum disease, decay between teeth, and breakdown of existing fillings.
- Occlusal — It is done with a closed jaw to show the upper and bottom teeth lineup. It captures all teeth in one shot. Occlusal X rays detect any abnormalities with the palate of the mouth.
- Periapical — Shows the whole teeth from the crown to where the root attaches with the jaw. It detects any abnormal changes in the root and the surrounding bone structures.
ExtraOral X- Rays — They are used to detect dental problems in the skull and the jaw. These X rays include:
- Panoramic — The machine rotates around the head and shows the whole mouth area. It captures all the teeth in the upper and lower jaws with a single X-ray shot. It helps diagnose tumors as well as determine the position of emerged and any emerging teeth.
- Tomograms — Blurs out the other mouth "layers" and shows a particular "layer." It mostly shows the structures that are hardly seen because other structures block them.
- Cephalometric Projections — This X-ray shows one side of the head. It shows the teeth according to your jaw and profile.
- Sialogram — This type entails injecting a special dye into the patient's salivary glands to make them visible on an x-ray film. Salivary glands are composed of soft tissues making it hard to be identified on a film hence the need for a dye. This type is mainly used to identify issues in the salivary glands such as Sjogren’s syndrome, characterized by a dry mouth or dry eyes and contributing to tooth decay problems. It could also help establish the cause of blockages in these glands.
- Dental Computed Tomography (CT) — This procedure incorporates 3-D imaging to examine the dental system's interior structures. It helps test and find problems in the face’s bones, such as tumors, fractures, and unwarranted cysts.
- Cone Beam CT — Like the former, this type uses 3-D imaging to find issues in the dental structures, nerves, bones, and soft tissues. It helps to examine tumors and cysts in the mouth and face and give guidance during dental implants placement. Moreover, it can also be used to identify issues in the gums, the jaws, and the roots. While this type is significantly similar to Dental CT, the two differ in how the images are taken. The Cone Beam CT takes pictures by rotating around a patient's head and consequently taking the pictures in a single rotation. A typical traditional dental CT, on the other hand, has to make several rotations to capture images hence exposing a patient to more amounts of radiation. A Cone Beam CT is readily available in a dentist while Dental Computed CTs are only limited to hospitals or specialized dental imaging institutions.
- Digital imaging — This is 2-D dental imaging that incorporates the use of computers to capture the taken images. With this type, captured images are viewed on a computer screen and stored for future retrieval through printing. This type presents quality and highly enhanced details with better details than traditional x-rays. This way, your dentist can see issues more clearly and is better positioned to handle them accordingly. Digital imaging also uses significantly lower levels of radiation, making it one of the safest imaging types.
- MRI Imaging — This uses 3-D imaging to capture pictures of the oral cavity, including the teeth and the jaws. It is considered the best imaging type to obtain soft tissues in the dental system. It is also very safe as it does not use high levels of radiation.
How is Dental X-ray Done? Digital vs. Film-based
The procedure takes place in a dentist's establishment, and the pictures are read and interpreted by your dentist. The film-based process entails the following:
- Your dentist covers you with a protective lead apron, which keeps off x-rays from hitting your body. Your neck will also be covered with a thyroid collar shield to secure your thyroid glands from the radioactive x-rays.
- The attending technicians, as well as the dentist, are all in protective aprons as well.
- The dentist has you bite on a small piece of plastic or cardboard. This piece holds the x-ray film to record the taken pictures. You might be required to repeat this several times in a bid to take images of all your teeth. In advanced machines, you stand still as a camera takes pictures of your teeth.
- You are required to rinse your mouth after the procedure.
Digital dental x-ray is more advanced with better and accurate images. Instead of a film, this procedure uses highly effective electronic sensors. Electronic photos are taken and uploaded on the relevant database on a computer. The collected images can be observed and accessed on a computer screen. Digital radiography is safer since less radiation is needed to produce images.
Are There Risks Associated with Dental X-rays?
Dental x-rays are considered safe, with limited side effects on perfectly normal patients without unwarranted underlying issues. However, no matter how small, radiation can reflect negatively on a patient's body, especially where expected safety measures are not applied religiously. Moreover, there is a high likelihood of tissue damage for patients in contact with other forms of radiation, such as sunlight and medical radiation.
It is also very possible that these procedures could increase cancer risks. It, however, can be attributed to the type of machines used to carry out the process. There is a crop of new 3-D x-ray devices, such as the computed tomography used for special procedures that expose patients to relatively higher amounts of radiation. It may increase the risks of cancer.
Patients will always respond differently to exposure to any form of radiation. In some rare cases, patients have become ill after overexposure to radiation through computed tomography x-rays.
However, the risks are measured against the wellbeing of dental health. There are adverse dental issues that demand the use of x-rays to examine in a bid to handle them properly. Moreover, with the right x-ray equipment and adherence to the set guidelines, the procedure will always pass the safety tests.
Dental health is among the most critical parts of the entire human body. If the dental system is compromised, the results are usually unappealing. Talk of acute pain in case of unexpected tooth decays, cavities, and even worse unwarranted development of tumors. Luckily, digital dental x-rays come in handy to promptly identify such issues before they develop into a nightmare nobody wants to face.
Find Digital Imaging Services Near Me
If you are looking to have your teeth examined through the best digital imaging equipment, visit us at Northridge Dentist. We offer not only the best but also the safest digital imaging services around. Please book an appointment with us at 818-875-0216.
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