When Are Dental X-rays Necessary?

X-rays are crucial in various medical disciplines, allowing doctors to gain comprehensive insights into the body and deliver effective healthcare. Dental care relies on X-rays for similar purposes. Regular X-rays are necessary for preventative care, track oral health, with the frequency determined by their dental history and current oral health condition.



Comprehensive Dental Exam


A comprehensive dental exam is essential for dentists and specialists to understand your oral and bone health. This may involve obtaining 3D images of your mouth and performing X-rays. Additionally, impressions of your teeth and jaw may be taken to create accurate models. 


Comprehensive dental exams are critical to determining the presence of underlying conditions. This is especially so if you have a history of oral health issues or are presenting symptoms of complex conditions. 



Types of Dental X-rays


You can have intraoral or extraoral dental X-rays—with the film placed inside the mouth or outside, respectively. 


Intraoral X-ray


This is the leading X-ray type that dentists require to gain more information about the tooth's health and identify cavities and other issues present in the tooth roots. It also allows the dentist to check the health of the bone around the tooth and the state of developing teeth. 


Extraoral X-rays


The focus of these X-rays is not on the teeth but on the jaw and the skull. They lack the detail of the intraoral X-rays in detecting issues with teeth but are excellent at detecting impacted teeth and monitoring the growth of the jawbone. 


Situations X-rays are Necessary


High Cavity Risk


Individuals at a higher risk of cavities may require X-rays during almost every dental visit. Some people diligently care for their teeth but still develop cavities; in many cases, individuals with high cavity risks do not maintain regular dental hygiene. 


Dentist require X-rays to observe beneath your enamel. X-rays enable the dentist to monitor the development of cavities, including new ones, and provide valuable information about any fillings and implants you may have.


Gum Disease


Frequent dental X-rays are necessary if you have gum disease. This is particularly so if you have advanced periodontitis. Periodontal disease affects the supporting structures of the teeth in the jaw. X-rays help dentists evaluate the progression of the disease. 


The results provide a visual representation of the structures damaged by the disease. They serve as a reference point during restorative treatments, acting as a map for the underlying structures.



Other Factors Influencing X-ray Frequency


Age is another factor that determines how often you need dental X-rays. Here are some guidelines for different age groups:




Adults who have undergone dental implants, bridges, and fillings may require frequent dental X-rays to help dentists assess the formation of cavities or decay beneath restorations. Additionally, individuals with a high-sugar diet may need dental X-rays more often—every six to eighteen months on average. In contrast, individuals with a less sugary diet typically need X-rays every 24 to 36 months.


Children and Teens


Children who consume sugary treats or have had fillings may need X-rays once or twice a year. If a child is below 12 and has never had fillings, X-rays may be necessary annually or every two years. As children enter their teenage years, X-rays are necessary every one-and-a-half to three years.


For more on when dental X-rays are necessary, visit Clarity Dental Center for Implant and Family Dentistry at our office in Federal Way, Washington. Call (253) 799-1490 to book an appointment today.

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