At Austin Family Dental, we pride ourselves on giving safe, thorough dental examinations to our patients. X-rays are one essential part of our care routines. Some patients ask if X-rays are really necessary, and the answer is “yes.”

Why X-Rays Are Needed

While we do complete oral exams, we can’t see everything. X-rays can tell us what’s going on in areas we can’t spot – like between teeth, inside the teeth and the roots and bone underneath the gums. Seeing what’s going on below the surface allows us to catch problems before they become big issues and allows dentists to rule out dental disease. X-rays are also key in helping your dentist diagnose problems you’re experiencing such as pain and sensitivity.

What X-Rays Show

X-rays are key in diagnosing cavities and helping dentists assess the level of tooth decay you have. Dentists also use scans to diagnose abscesses, masses and cysts, as well as identifying the amount of bone loss from periodontal disease. Many people are familiar with the importance of X-rays before dealing with wisdom teeth and in identifying impacted or missing teeth, too.

Types of X-Rays

There are a variety of different types of X-rays, and each type of scan is used for a particular purpose:

  • Bitewing – These X-rays show the crowns of your teeth and help spot signs of early decay between your teeth.
  • Periapical – These X-rays give a great view of bone height or root tips.
  • Panoramic – These X-rays give a full image of the oral cavity on one big X-ray and are taken from the outside with a machine that circles your head. This extensive X-ray can show upper and lower jaws, sinus areas, impaction, cysts, tumors, jaw problems and bone issues.
  • Occlusal – These X-rays are used with children, at times, to assess developing teeth.

X-Ray Safety

X-ray machines are designed to minimize patient exposure to radiation, and Austin Family Dental uses the safest machines available. You’ll be provided an apron to cover all necessary areas, and we only take the X-rays we need. You can rest assured that your safety is our first priority. Be sure to let us know ahead of time if you are pregnant or breastfeeding; X-rays don’t have to be completely avoided, but it’s best to let us know your current situation.

If you have further questions about what we use X-rays for or how frequently your situation will require them, ask your dentist at your next appointment or give us a call. We want you to be empowered to ask questions about your care and have the knowledge you need to feel comfortable at every appointment.