May 29, 2015

Are Dental Xrays Necessary?

Are Dental Xrays Necessary?

One of the things we sometimes hear from our patients is, "I really don't want dental xrays, can't you just do my checkup and cleaning for me." This becomes a challenging task for us to complete a thorough dental exam for the patient. If we are seeing a patient for the first time, we often have little to no history on a patient. Without xrays, we only rely on what our eyes can see and that's only the surface. Dental xrays allow us to complete our exam, because we can see what is going on "below" the surface. A dental exam without xrays would be like doing a dental checkup with the lights off. We can't see, what we can't see.

Male dentist explaining dental Xrays to female patient in clinic

Xrays give valuable information about the inside of a tooth and conditions under the gums

Why do we take xrays?

  • The ability to see all of a patient's teeth from the inside
  • To see what a patient's teeth look like TODAY including any conditions and restorations
  • Check for cavities underneath the surfaces of teeth that we can't see clinically, especially in between teeth
  • Assess the bone level is in relation to the teeth (wait for it... this is important for cleanings. More to follow...)
  • To look for any abnormal lesions or pathology, defective restorations, root canals, possible fractures, abscesses, extra or missing teeth, tartar buildup below the gums, and sometimes tumors or growths

Dental Xrays tell us about the foundation of the mouth.

We mentioned that we use xrays to assess the level of where the bone is in relation to the tooth, because the gums and bone are the foundation of the mouth. They hold teeth in place. Without adequate bone support, teeth become loose or can break.

What happens during the exam?

Gum measurements are taken around each tooth. We also take measurements of where the gums are today vs where they are supposed to be for that tooth. Xrays are then referenced to double check our readings. For most situations, areas with bone loss usually give us a  larger gum measurement reading. Areas with bone loss need to be treated more aggressively than areas that do not have bone loss. Teeth without bone loss are generally healthly and typically require a prophy or regular cleaning. Teeth with more bone loss, are in a diseased state: periodontal or gum disease. Gum disease needs to be treated and maintained more aggressively. The only way to check for gum disease is with a thorough exam that includes dental xrays.

* Xrays are NOT a one size fits all model. Due to a patient's overall health in addition to all his/her oral conditions, dental xray schedules are tailored to each individual. Some patients require more frequent xrays such as every 6 months and some patients require xrays every few years. As always, we discuss these recommendations with our patients, so they may be partners in their overall dental wellness.

If you are looking for a dentist in Mansfield, TX we are always happy to accept new patients. You can request an appointment online or call our office 817-453-2983. You can also use our contact form if you have any specific questions for our staff or doctors.


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