Diagnosis and X-rays

"Why do I need x-rays? Nothing is bothering me." Almost always a minor dental problem, such as a small cavity, will NOT be felt until it becomes a major problem that takes more effort, time, and expense to correct. Dental x-rays are an essential, preventive, and diagnostic tool that provides valuable information not visible during a regular dental exam. Without x-rays, problem areas go undetected.

Dental x-rays may reveal:
  • Cavities between the teeth
  • Bone loss around teeth
  • Abscesses or cysts
  • Tumors
  • Problems inside a tooth
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Poor tooth or root positions
Are dental x-rays safe?

Every day we are exposed to naturally occurring radiation in our environment. This background radiation is approximately 3 milliSieverts(mSv)/year at sea level. A full mouth set of dental x-rays is about .150 mSv, about one twentieth of normal background radiation.

Digital x-rays reduce this level of radiation by an additional 30-50%. This technology uses an electronic sensor or plate (instead of an x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. The image can be retrieved in seconds, enlarged, and enhanced to detect problems easier. The image can also be sent electronically via email. Since there is no need to develop x-rays, this eliminates the disposal of harmful chemicals into the environment.

Every time an x-ray is taken, we place a lead apron including a thyroid collar to protect your body and limit your exposure to unnecessary radiation.

How often should x-rays be taken?

The frequency depends on each patient's individual dental health needs. A full mouth set is usually recommended once every five years and check-up (bite wing) x-rays annually.

Other dental x-rays

Sometimes alternative types of x-rays may be necessary. A panoramic (panorex) x-ray is useful for wisdom teeth extractions, orthodontia, or implant placement. A CT scan is sometimes needed for implant placement. A cone beam x-ray is valuable in detecting sources of infection or fractures.

Teresa K. Yang, D.D.S. General Dentistry
1510 10th Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401

(310) 458-0501