Routine dental visits can often mean a round of dental x-rays too. You might begin to wonder how often X-rays are needed. Dental professionals use X-rays to look for decay that may be too minor to be seen any other way. Also, X-rays can indicate bone weakness in the jawbone and identify wisdom and other emerging teeth issues. Several factors are considered when planning for X-rays, so read on to find out more.

The Timing of X-rays

Everyone has individual aspects of their dental health that determines the timing of an X-ray. In most cases, once a year is usually standard unless a problem arises. Often performed during a regular exam, identifying decay is the prime reason for X-rays at that time. However, some dentists need more information about developing teeth. That means children and adolescents could have more frequent X-rays than adults. Other things that can affect the frequency of X-rays include:

  • Specific problems with gum or other oral diseases.
  • Before and after implant surgery to ascertain the condition of the jawbone and the position of the post.
  • To determine the positioning of wisdom teeth.
  • Getting a better look at an infection like an abscess.

Keep in mind that your dentist will only order X-rays if there is a need. Newer X-ray equipment is safer, and the use of digital imaging provides more in-depth views of the teeth, gums, and underlying bones.

Types of X-rays

Depending on what the dentist needs to see, you can expect some of the following types of X-rays.

  1. Panoramic – The machine that takes this type of X-ray spins around your head while the imaging is taking place. The full scope view allows dentists to look for problems with your bone structure, wisdom tooth progress, and to examine the roots of your teeth. Those about to undergo dental surgery may need a panoramic X-ray as part of the preparations.
  2. Bitewing – If you are asked to bite down on plastic or paper, it's probably a bitewing X-ray in the works. This view allows dentists to get a close-up view of the health of your teeth. This is where many cavities get detected.
  3. Periapical – The view here is of two teeth from top to root area in detail.
  4. Occlusal – Seeing how your teeth fit together is the goal of this X-ray. Palate abnormalities can also be detected.
  5. Digital – Using digital X-rays uses minimal radiation to obtain images that can be electronically stored. The precise nature of this type of X-ray allows the dentist to observe tiny changes over time.

If you are unsure about the need for an X-ray, speak to the friendly staff at your dentist to find out more.