Routine Check of Teeth and Bone
A full set of x-rays will be recommended every 3-5 years to get a full picture of your mouth and check to make sure all your teeth are healthy as well as your bone levels, the health of your jaw and other structures are all in good condition. The full set of x-rays may consist of something called a “full mouth series,” which is 12-18 small x-rays of your teeth and teeth roots, or a “panoramic” x-ray, which is a large x-ray that shows your entire mouth on one film.
In addition to the panoramic x-ray, a couple of small checkup x-rays will still need to be taken to check for cavities between the teeth that the panoramic x-ray doesn’t show clearly. Also, every 1-3 years, a set of 2-4 checkup x-rays will be taken to check for cavities between the teeth. These checkup x-rays will be recommended more frequently for patients who are prone to cavities and less regularly for patients who are not prone to cavities.
Benefits of Routine X-rays
Catching cavities in their early stages before growing larger, assessing the health of past restorative work, catching bone loss in its early stages, catching cysts and any other abnormalities in the jaw and bone.
To Detect Issues or Problems
An x-ray will likely need to be taken if you come into the dental office and are experiencing pain or sensitivity with a tooth. There is only so much that can be seen visually and detected clinically without being able to see the underlying tooth and bone structure with an x-ray. The type and number of x-rays that may be recommended will be based on the problem and what needs to be assessed.
Digital Vs. Film X-Rays
Dental offices are moving over from film x-rays to digital x-rays. The benefit of digital x-rays is that it produces about 70% less radiation than film x-rays. It is instantaneous, therefore eliminating the processing time. As well, the digital image can be enhanced and enlarged, unlike a film x-ray and digital x-rays are more eco-friendly for the environment.