Often my patients are concerned about the safety of dental x-rays. I completely understand this concern, which is why I am disclosing the full truth about dental x-rays in this article.

Firstly, you should know that dental X-rays play a key role in oral health. They enable a dentist to review a patient’s oral health and identify the underlying problems related to the teeth, jaws, and soft tissues of the mouth. X-rays also help dentists provide an accurate diagnosis and determine the best course of action to treat oral health issues.

Secondly, not all dental X-rays are the same. A dentist may recommend one of more of the following types of X-rays, depending on your condition.

8 Types of X-Rays

1. Bitewing

A bitewing x-ray is used to look at one specific area of your mouth. For example, a dentist might request it to identify cavities, assess fillings, or examine the crowns in areas of the mouth that are tough to reach.

2. Panoramic

Panoramic x-rays show the entire mouth and are often used to track tooth development, for example to determine if one might need orthodontics.

3. Periapical

A periapical x-ray is one that captures the whole tooth. It shows everything from the crown (chewing surface) to the root (below the gum line). This is done in order to examine one or two teeth for root problems, cavities, and oral health issues that affect the surrounding jaw bone.

4. Occlusal

This type of x-ray illustrates the arch of the teeth from either the top or bottom jaw.

5. Cone Beam Computerized Tomography (CBCT)

This type of x-ray provides a 3D view of the patient’s mouth to help a dentist assess the development and space of their teeth.

6. Cephalometric projections show an entire side of the head. Orthodontists use this X-ray to develop each patient’s specific teeth realignment approach.

7. Dental Computed Tomography (CT)

This type of imaging looks at interior structures in 3-D. It is used to find problems in the bones of the face, such as fractures or cysts.

8. Tomogram

Tomograms show a particular layer or “slice” of the mouth while blurring out others. This X-ray examines structures that are difficult to clearly see because other nearby structures are blocking the view.

The Risks Associated With X-Rays

Now, is there a risk in taking x-rays? While x-rays do emit some radiation, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), radiation exposure due to dental x-rays is very minimal in comparison to both human-made and natural radiation sources. To put this in perspective, the minimal radiation and health risks of x-rays are significantly smaller than, for example, the exposure to radiation from flying. While x-rays are essential for evaluation, diagnosis, and proper treatment decisions, their risk is absolutely minimal.

I hope this puts your mind at ease. If you have any other questions about the safety of x-rays, I will happily address your concerns during your next visit. Call today to schedule an appointment: 718-621-0827. Onatsky Dental Clinic is located at 2960 Ocean Ave 1st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11235.