Why does the dentist always need to take an x-ray before extracting a tooth, or diagnosing decay? There are several reasons that a dentist will take a radiograph, or x-ray, whether it is during a check-up or an emergency exam.
At our office we take checkup x-rays, or bitewings, every 6 months to 1 year on children under 18. This is mainly due to the fact that children are at a higher risk for cavities. They tend to have a higher intake of sugary foods and are not as thorough when brushing and flossing. Bitewings are taken on adults every 18 months to 2 years, unless they are at a higher risk for decay. A bitewing will show decay that lies between the teeth that cannot be detected in a clinical exam.
During a limited exam, or emergency exam, we will take a periapical film, otherwise known as a PA. This is an x-ray that will show Dr. Hubbard the crown and root of the tooth that is causing you the pain. The PA will allow us to analyze the level of the bone surrounding the tooth, detect cavities under existing fillings, and see any infection that may be at the tip, or apex, of the tooth.
Radiation is a large concern we hear from our patients. At our office we utilize digital imaging technology. With digital imaging, exposure time is about 50 percent less when compared to traditional radiographs. Radiation is measured in millirems, otherwise known as mrem. A dental radiograph exposes you to 0.1mrem, to put that into perspective, the average person is exposed to 228mrem from breathing normally for 1 year and 40 mrem per year from the food we eat and water we drink in just a year’s time. One set of checkup x-rays will expose you to less radiation than spending 30 mins outdoors in the sunshine.