Dental X-rays show your dentist the mysteries of your teeth, jaw, and sinuses. Unlike your Facebook Profile pic, which gives a first impression of your personality–laid-back surfer, rescue dog lover, quilting warrior—your dental X-ray reveals what even you don’t know. An X-ray might show decay under an old filling. Or an abscess or impacted tooth. It might show bone loss due to periodontal disease. Or even a previously undetected tumor. Our favorite X-rays show everything is chill. X-rays are an invaluable tool in the maintenance of your oral health, and the safest X-rays are digital dental X-rays.
Digital X-Rays-Because We’re Safety First
If your spidey sense starts tingling when it’s time to get an X-ray, you’re a rational person. We should all be aware of radiation sources in our daily lives. That’s why our office uses digital dental radiography (X-ray pictures). Digital X-rays are superior to and safer than older conventional film X-rays:
- Digital X-rays expose you to 80% less radiation.
- Digital radiography means there is less a chance of having to repeat X-rays.
- Of all forms of medical X-rays, dental X-rays have always been considered the safest, simply because they’re directed to a part of the body that isn’t as radiosensitive. Digital X-rays make dental X-rays that much safer.
- Digital X-rays hit you with no more radiation than what your body absorbs from background sources. Our bodies are used to getting bombarded with x-ray radiation from what is called background sources: cosmic rays from space, radon gas, even brick and block buildings. Background radiation occurs in rocks, water, air, and even plants. We inhale and ingest low levels of radiation. Even potassium-rich foods like bananas and avocados are slightly ‘radioactive’ simply because potassium decays. (Don’t stop eating these foods! The good you get outweighs this food factoid.) Plus, for the most part, our bodies repair the damage caused by these low levels. The amount of radiation you receive from 4 digital X-ray bitewing pics is less than the radiation you get taking a short walk in your neighborhood. Or, about the same amount of radiation you’d get from a short flight from San Diego to San Francisco.
We Take Safety Up a Notch
Still, we don’t take any chances. Just like we wear sunscreen when we go outdoors, we take every measure to ensure your safety when we take digital X-rays:
- Proper shielding. Before taking a digital X-ray, you are draped with a lead apron with a thyroid neck collar. This prevents any wandering radiation from penetrating your body and thyroid gland. Lead aprons absorb about 90 to 95 percent of ionizing radiation.
- If you’re pregnant, we double up the apron shield. Repeated studies affirm dental care, including X-rays, are safe during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women reaffirmed this opinion in 2017. Although the double apron is not technically necessary, we totally get all the things you’re worrying about right now. We tuck you into two lead layers, because we want you to feel safe, confident, and cared for.
- For children, we take smaller digital pics, following the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Image Gently initiative that uses “child-size” digital X-rays, so little bodies are exposed to even less radiation. That means we use the fastest image receptor and the “child-size” exposure time. We always tuck children into a lead apron with a thyroid collar.
Digital X-Rays Improve Diagnostics
- Digital images are instantaneous. Staff no longer have to leave patients to process film in a darkroom using stinky chemicals that are harmful to the environment. That means if you’re in pain, you get a diagnosis quicker.
- A digital X-ray image can be magnified 300 times its normal size. The larger the picture, the easier it is to see a small emerging cavity or fracture in your enamel.
- A digital X-ray image can be enhanced to correct contrast, which helps us detect hidden problems.
- Your oral health profile pic can be stored easily on a computer. If we refer you to an endodontist, orthodontist, or oral surgeon, your digital X-rays are easily transferrable.
Types of Digital X-Rays
We take X-rays only when necessary and follow the standards set by the ADA. Depending upon your needs, we may choose from a number of digital X-ray options to inform your diagnosis. Here are the types of digital X-rays we take:
- Bitewing radiographs. They show your teeth above the gum line and the height of the bone between teeth. We use these to help diagnose gum disease and between-teeth cavities.
- Periapical radiographs show us your bone structure around a tooth and its root tip. We use this type of X-ray when you have a tooth ache or if we think there is a specific area of concern.
- Panoramic X-rays produce an image of the entire oral cavity in one large picture. This is accomplished by you sitting still and having the X-ray head rotate around you. That provides us one big image of your jaws and teeth. A panoramic pic is useful when we want to see the upper and lower jaws at once, impacted teeth, or other hidden issues that are harder to see on individual pictures.
Rest assured that any X-rays you have taken at Renae Wilson Cosmetic and Family Dentistry will be necessary and safe. And because they’re digital, your oral health profile pic will be better, faster, and smarter! Plus, just like other X-rays, digital X-rays are covered under your basic insurance benefits.
We believe good information promotes good oral health. We work with you so you are able to make informed decisions about your oral health. Always feel free to ask us questions about how we do things. We love to share what we do and why we do it!
If you’re down for an informative, safety-first, and fun dentistry experience, give us a call at 619-588-2420, or fill out our Appointment Request Form.