One common question that people have when visiting the dentist is “Do I really need x-rays?”
Yes! Dental x-rays help us diagnose problems that the dentist cannot see with the naked eye.
A perfectly healthy looking tooth:
An x-ray of the same tooth which shows a cavity large enough that the tooth had to be taken out:
The easiest way to think of it is like this:
X-rays help us diagnose a cavity that is THIS big.
We can see a cavity with our magnifying eyewear that is THIS big.
It starts to hurt when a cavity is THIS big.
Catching the cavity while it is small has two benefits:
- The fix is much more conservative. A smaller cavity means less tooth structure needs to be cleaned out in order to place a filling. The larger a cavity becomes, the more tooth structure is lost.
- The fix is quicker and more cost effective. A filling that gets too big goes into the nerve of the tooth and ends up needing a root canal and crown, which takes more appointments and costs more.
X-rays also help diagnose other problems, such as gum disease, impacted teeth, and cysts.
Concerns about dental x-rays also revolve around how much radiation you will be exposed to.
Click here to read more about the amount of exposure experienced with dental radiation.