dental x-raysFor many people in Grand Rapids, dental x-rays are a just another part of the annual dental routine, never given a second thought. Have you ever wondered how x-rays help prevent emergency dental issues, and how dental x-rays became such a necessary part of good dental care?

When x-rays were first discovered by Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895, doctors immediately saw their usefulness for dental care. Since that time, equipment, safety practices, and dental uses have evolved over time, and at this point that most modern dentists use x-rays as an essential window into any dental issues lurking below the surface. As both a preventative and diagnostic tool, x-rays provide information that is not visible to the dentist, including problems can only be detected with x-rays.

Most patients know that x-rays are used to find cavities, particularly when decay occurs between teeth, and problems inside a tooth or below the gum line. The images also give a better understanding of the structure of the mouth, including developmental abnormalities, poor tooth and root positions, tumors, abscesses, or bone loss. Monitoring these underlying structures can make the difference between a careful dental plan now and an emergency root canal later. By discovering problems in the beginning and coming up with an accurate treatment plan, you can save time, money, and unnecessary discomfort, not to mention your teeth.

How often are x-rays needed? That depends on your health, age, habits, and other factors. When you visit a new dentist, a set of x-rays is usually taken to get a baseline understanding of your mouth structures. From there, the dentist can develop a schedule for regular updates.

Some patients do have concerns about x-rays and radiation exposure. In point of fact, the amount of each radiation exposure is relatively small, around 0.150 mSv for a full mouth series, according to the American Dental Association. That’s similar to the dose received during a cross-country air flight. To improve patient safety, lead aprons and sometimes thyroid collars are used to further limit exposure. All the same, patients who are pregnant often choose to delay a dental x-ray until after delivery, to prevent even a small amount of exposure to the thyroid.

Dental x-rays are just one more part of good preventative dental care that will help keep you from needing emergency dental care down the road. X-rays, safely used, can eliminate the surprises and mysteries that surrounded dental care before Roentgen’s amazing discovery. Contact Dental Associates of West MI at 616-554-5970 today to help keep your teeth and mouth in the peak of health.

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