Why take an x-ray?
Dental x-rays show areas that the dentist can’t see – like the edges or sides between teeth and the roots of the tooth beneath the gum. Early detection usually means smaller problems and often simpler treatments. These routine x-rays are of interest at your first visit to a dentist to assist the assessment. However, if you have had others done recently – within 2 years – at a previous practice, it is common to have records and x-rays transferred from your past dentist.
Apart from routine checks, dental x-rays also:
show the health of the natural tooth under fillings and around root canals, crowns and bridges;
assist in the planning of implants, braces, root canal therapy and extractions
When teeth are missing or late to erupt, x-rays will show their position, shape – and if absent!
Highlight impaction of wisdom teeth, and the resulting (or predicted) trauma to the healthy visible tooth
help diagnose the extent and severity of gum disease, checking for bone loss
Show precise location of nerves and sinuses prior to extraction
Are taken after trauma to detect bone fragments or foreign objects
Digital vs old style film . . .
Digital x-rays involve around 20% of the radiation of old style x-rays, or about the same exposure as a 1-2 hour flight. Of course, that doesn’t mean they should be taken without appropriate clinical reasoning.
About dental x-rays if I’m pregnant
Advise the dentist if you are or could be pregnant, but be reassured if the problem is severe or urgent, the small dose which is localised to a very small area of the jaw is considered safe if necessary.