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Dental X-Rays

An X-ray is a helpful tool used by healthcare providers and dentists alike. Using pulses of low level radiation and light and dark contrasting, X-ray machines are able to produce specialized images that distinguish between different internal features. For example, muscle will appear more translucent while tooth and bone will be opaque. Less dense tissue appears darker, while highly dense material appears lighter. 

X-rays allow your dentist to see past the soft tissues of the body and take a deeper look inside for a detailed image of the jawbone, roots, and teeth. With this thorough look at aspects of your oral health that are invisible to the naked eye, dental X-rays are useful in detecting both minor and major dental issues, from cavities to tumors. 

Dental x-rays and imaging are among the many diagnostic services offered at Castle Dental. We believe prevention is just as important as treatment when it comes to dental health, so we include dental x-rays as part of our standard of care.

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How often should I get dental x-rays?

Your dentist will determine when, if, and how often you should have dental x-rays based on several factors including your age, risk of tooth decay and oral health history.

Whether or not you’ll need dental x-rays at a dental appointment will depend on things like if you are:

  • A first-time patient. If you are visiting a practice for the first time, new X-ray images will be taken to establish a baseline to compare with future images. 
  • A healthy adult. If you are a healthy adult with good oral hygiene and no sensitivity or concerns, you may only need x-rays every two to three years. 
  • A healthy adult who has undergone restorative work. If you have had extensive dental work and are prone to cavities or other oral health concerns, your dentist may recommend X-rays every twelve to eighteen months.
  • A child. Kids will likely receive X-rays at every dental checkup and cleaning, which is typically every six months. Children are at a higher risk of tooth decay due to excessive sugar consumption and because they’ve yet to establish consistent and good dental hygiene habits. Additionally, it is helpful for the dentist to see any permanent teeth and molars that have yet to erupt. 
  • Pregnant. Dental x-rays produce a very low amount of radiation and every precaution is taken (including lead vests), but how far along you are in your pregnancy may affect if and when your dentist performs x-rays. 

What types of dental X-rays are there?

There are several different kinds of X-rays and they all produce slightly different views and images of the mouth. Your dentist will likely take multiple different x-rays to get the most complete and comprehensive picture of your mouth as possible. 

Intraoral X-rays. Intraoral X-rays are the most common type of X-ray taken at the dentist. They produce images taken specifically of the teeth and jaw bones. They provide significant detail of the condition of the teeth and are used to detect cavities and other concerns. The most common intraoral X-rays include:

Occlusal X-ray 

  • What: This type of X-ray produces an image of an entire arch of teeth in either the upper or lawyer jaw.
  • Why: It shows the placement and arrangement of the teeth, areas of concern, and, when taken over a long term period, it can show development and changes. 
  • How: The image is taken with the jaw closed and can capture many teeth in one shot. 

Bitewing X-ray 

  • What:  This type of x-ray focuses on a specific area of the mouth and produces an image containing only a few teeth. The images are very detailed and show the tooth from the crown (surface of the tooth) all the way to the roots and jawbone. 
  • Why: They are great for detecting decay and changes caused by gum disease. 
  • How: To produce these images, a hygienist or x-ray technician will have you bite down on a special piece of film and line the machine up with that particular part of the cheek. 

Extraoral X-rays. Extraoral X-rays focus mainly on the jaw and skull. They are useful for more specialized dentistry and for trauma to the mouth and head. The most common extraoral X-rays include:

Panoramic X-ray 

  • What: This is a type of X-ray that captures the entire mouth in a single image. 
  • Why: They are most commonly used for detecting and analyzing problems with the wisdom teeth or jaw and for planning dental implants or devices.
  • How: This type of image is produced when the X-ray machine rotates 360° around the head.

Cephalometric X-ray 

  • What: This type of X-ray produces a side view image of the entire head, including the teeth and jaw. It also captures the sinus cavities, skull and spine.
  • Why: They are most commonly taken by an orthodontist for planning braces or for other major dental work. They are also taken when the mouth has endured some sort of trauma.
  • How: These images are taken as the X-ray machine essentially sweeps back and forth in a side to side motion.

How are dental x-rays taken?

In general, most dental X-rays can be taken at your dentist’s office and are often considered to be part of a full-service dental checkup and cleaning. There will likely be a special space designated specifically to the X-ray machine, but it will be in the same office as the other treatment areas. 

Depending on the technology being used and the type of X-ray being taken, the X-ray tech may place a lead shield over your body. You might bite down on a special film that helps the machine see the inside of your mouth more clearly, or you may have to close your mouth over a device for an intraoral x-ray. Once completed, your dentist will examine the images closely, looking for any decay, abnormalities and the overall structure of the teeth. 

Are dental x-rays safe? 

The amount of radiation used during a dental X-ray is so low that there is no virtually no cause for concern, and your dentist and dental hygienist will take every precaution necessary to further minimize any exposure, such as with shields or lead vests. Dental X-rays have been used safely for more than 100 years, and their benefits far outweigh the risk.

If you are concerned about the safety or possible exposure of your dental x-rays, be sure to discuss it with your dentist, hygienist, or x-ray technicians. 

How much do dental x-rays cost?

The price of X-rays depends on many several factors including:

  • The type of X-ray being taken
  • The number of images being taken
  • The type of X-ray machine being used

Dental X-rays are an important part of a dental checkup and are typically covered by dental insurance plans, the majority of which are accepted at Castle Dental. If your insurance will not cover X-rays or if you do not have dental insurance, we also offer our OneSmile Dental plan, which includes free checkups and dental X-rays to members for one low annual fee.

Affordable Dental X-Rays at Castle Dental

Quality dental care shouldn’t cost a fortune, and at Castle Dental, we work hard to make sure the care you need fits your budget. We also make sure preventative services like x-rays are easy and convenient, offering them at all of our locations and with flexible scheduling options. Make your appointment today!