Internal images of your teeth and jaws can be seen on dental X-rays (radiographs). Dentists utilize X-rays to check structures like the jawbone, nerves, sinuses, and tooth roots that they can’t see during a regular checkup.
X-rays are useful for detecting cavities and gum disease early on, helping your dentist prevent them from getting worse. An X-ray is an essential part of dental health and maintenance.
X-rays capture images of your mouth using electromagnetic radiation, just like other X-rays taken elsewhere on your body. Images of your teeth and bones are created as the radiation beam passes through your soft tissues.
Traditional film (using a camera) or digital X-rays (using sensors and a computer) can be used to take X-rays. The radiation from digital dental X-rays is 80% to 90% lower than that from traditional dental X-rays.
Cavities, especially small ones between teeth, decay underneath existing fillings, jaw bone loss, infection, unerupted or impacted teeth, abscessed teeth, cysts, and some types of tumors.
Also, dentists use X-rays to determine your eligibility for dental implants, braces, or dentures. A dental x-ray can also be used to check healing after certain procedures, such as dental bone grafting and root canals.
Generally, dentists recommend taking X-rays once every six to 18 months for people with healthy teeth and gums. It may be necessary to take more frequent X-rays if you have gum disease, recurring decay, or other time-sensitive conditions.
X-rays are necessary for maintaining oral health and preventing decay. In general, people with healthy teeth and gums need to get updated X-rays every year. But you might require X-rays more frequently. For healthy teeth and gums, ask your dentist how often you should get X-rays.