Dentists want to provide the best possible dental care to their patients, but a visual examination doesn't tell us everything we need to know. Thanks to dental X-rays, dentists can accurately diagnose and treat dental problems early before they become more serious. And if after examining your mouth and reviewing these images, we finds no cavities or growth issues, you can rest assured we have seen the whole picture.
X-rays, also called radiographs, give us the ability to see between and inside your teeth. We can also view the tip of your roots and bone underneath your gums places not normally visible to the naked eye. Although they are used as part of a routine examination to rule out dental disease, X-rays also aid us in diagnosing any specific or isolated dental problems you might be experiencing.
Radiographs are used to check for cavities and evaluate the extent of decay. And because some X-rays show the root of the tooth, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), the presence of any cysts, abscesses and other masses can be diagnosed. Congenitally missing or impacted teeth such as wisdom teeth are often identified this way, and the presence and extent of bone loss due to periodontal disease is easily seen through dental X-rays as well.
Bitewing, periapical and panoramic radiographs are the most common X-rays used in the dental office. During routine exams, we may take two to four bitewing x-rays which show the crown portions of your teeth to check for early signs of decay between your teeth. When we want to get a good look at your teeth's bone height or root tips, periapical X-rays provide the best view. A panoramic X-ray, according to the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), is taken from outside of your mouth and produces an image of the entire oral cavity on one large X-ray. Because the image shows all of the teeth, as well as the upper and lower jaws and sinus areas, this type of X-ray can identify impaction, cysts, tumors, jaw disorders and bone irregularities.
Other radiographs include occlusal X-rays, which are occasionally taken in children to evaluate their developing teeth; and cephalometric X-rays, used by orthodontists when planning orthodontic treatment.
Everyone's oral health varies, and as a result, we will evaluate your needs and recommend an X-ray schedule accordingly. If you're a new patient, the dentist may advise taking a full series of X-rays to assess your current oral health state, and use this as a baseline going forward. As you continue your regular checkup visits, fewer X-rays are needed to monitor the status of your oral health.
Because X-ray machines and other sources of dental radiographs are designed to minimize radiation, these processes are safe and your exposure is negligible. Our office, in fact, is now using digital X-rays, which further reduces radiation exposure, as well as intra-oral cameras to get a clearer view. Nonetheless, the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site recommends patients have the added protection of a leaded apron to cover the abdominal area and a leaded collar to protect the thyroid. Always let your dentist know if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, though necessary X-rays don't have to be avoided as long as you're wearing a fitted lead apron and thyroid collar.
How many toothbrushes do you think you have thrown away during your life? We are advised to change our toothbrush every three months, so in theory by the time somebody is 30 they will have already tossed around 120 toothbrushes.
That's a very big pile of plastic, but have you ever thought what happens to them? The Oral Health Foundation has taken a look at the potential uses for your toothbrush after it has finished its primary job of cleaning your teeth. What they have found is that we can be remarkably creative when it comes to prolonging the usefulness of our little bristled friends.
Encouragingly, research shows that 80% of us choose to repurpose our toothbrushes, so here are 10 best life hacks for your toothbrush which could save you valuable time, money, and your environment.