Why Do Dentists Take X-Rays?

Your teeth help you chew food and complete your smile. But like an iceberg, there’s a lot more to your teeth than what you see. 

Dentists take X-rays to better assess the parts of your teeth that aren’t visible, including in between and inside each tooth. X-rays also let the dentist see what’s going on underneath the gums.

From diagnosing to monitoring to creating your child’s dental plan, at Dentistry for Children, our board-certified pediatric dentist Dr. Maryam Sina wants you to know why we take so many pictures of your child’s teeth. 

Image of your whole tooth

Dental X-rays work a lot like the medical X-rays used to diagnose a broken arm and allow us to see all the different parts of your teeth, from the crown to the root and everything in between. The diagnostic imaging tool uses a special electromagnetic radiation energy that has the ability to pass through the mouth, teeth, gums, and bone and create images of each of these structures. 

At Dentistry for Children, we use digital X-rays to take pictures of your child’s teeth. Though X-rays are a safe diagnostic test, digital X-rays decrease exposure to radiation, making them even safer. We also get to view the images right away on our computer screen, and we can easily enlarge the image, so you can see what’s going on, too. The software we use also allows us to compare the most recent X-ray with any prior X-rays, so we can monitor changes. 

Find issues before they become problems

Although we love being able to take pictures of your child’s teeth, one of the primary reasons dentists take X-rays is to find dental issues that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Identifying dental issues early may prevent future oral health complications. 

We use dental X-rays to not only look for cavities, but also assess the degree of decay. X-rays also find cysts, abscesses, and unusual growths. The images also let us see the adult teeth that haven’t made their way up through your child’s gums yet, so we can make sure they’re going in the right direction and won’t become impacted (not break through the gum). 

Monitor growth and development

For children, dental X-rays are needed to monitor not only the progress of the adult teeth, but also the growth and development of the jaw. We also use dental X-rays to assess the health of the bone that surrounds the root of the tooth, known as the alveolar bone, as well as look for missing teeth that haven’t made their way up through the gums.

The number of dental X-rays your child needs depends on overall oral health, risk of disease, and age. Because of the many changes that occur in a child’s mouth, as well as their increased risk of cavities, more frequent dental X-rays may be needed. But with digital X-rays, we can get the images we need quickly, without pain, and with little risk. 

Dental X-rays help us monitor, diagnose, and develop our treatment plan for better oral health for your child. For expert care from the pediatric dental experts, call Dentistry for Children today. 

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