Your dentist can tell a lot about your oral health with a physical and visual examination of your smile. So why does your dentist recommend obtaining x-rays of your teeth every year during your routine check-up?
The American Dental Association deems dental x-rays completely safe for your health. But you can feel more confident about this process when you know how it can benefit your dental wellness. Read on to find four ways that a dentist will use x-ray imaging of your teeth to give you the best preventative dental care.
Reasons You Need Dental X-Rays
Spot Hidden Tooth Decay
In some cases, a cavity, an early stage of tooth decay, will come with noticeable symptoms. These can include tooth pain, bad-smelling breath, and dark discoloration where the enamel has been damaged.
But cavities can also develop in more subtle ways that a dentist cannot see easily. A dental x-ray can show hidden spots of tooth decay, which can appear as a shadow or dark spot in an image.
By diagnosing a cavity early, the dentist can then treat the problem promptly with a dental filling. Then you can preserve more of your natural dental structure before the decay can advance and cause more damage.
Evaluate Tooth Pulp Health
An x-ray will show hard tissue within the body, including your teeth and bone matter. Softer tissue, such as the pulp of the tooth, will not be visible in this type of imaging. However, an x-ray will display signs of a cyst or abscess within the tooth pulp.
Your dentist will then know they need to treat this pulp infection, usually with root canal therapy. They can also look for other issues within the tooth pulp, like non-vitality, and know to monitor the health of this tooth going forward. Non-vital teeth could be more susceptible to oral infections.
Monitor Tooth Growth
The dental x-ray will provide a full display of not only your visible teeth but underlying teeth that may still be below the gumline. Your dentist can keep an eye on the growth of your teeth and notice any shifting in their positions. Misaligned teeth can cause many dental complications.
If there are any alignment concerns in your smile, your dentist can then refer you to an orthodontist to straighten your teeth and your bite. They can also look at wisdom teeth with this imaging.
Wisdom teeth will often harm your smile if they start to grow through the gumline. Your dentist can monitor their growth and extract these teeth if they start to cause problems.
Check Jawbone Structure
X-ray imaging will capture both the teeth and the surrounding bone in the jaw. This means your dentist can spot any damage, including deterioration, that may happen in the jaw and pose a threat to your oral health.
If you lose one or more teeth, you could be at risk of degeneration of the jawbone. Your dentist can protect your jaw with tooth replacement treatment using dental implants.
However, in order to qualify for implant dentistry, your jaw must have enough bone to support the dental fixture. Your dentist can evaluate your jawbone structure and determine your eligibility for this treatment with dental x-rays.