Frequently Asked Questions
We want to answer any questions you might have about your oral care or upcoming dental visit. Listed below our most frequently asked questions about dental radiographs (often called x-rays). Please feel free to call our office with any additional questions not listed here.
- Dental radiographs (often called x-rays) are an important part of your routine dental care. Along with an oral examination, they provide your dentist with a more complete view of what’s happening in your mouth, including the teeth, bones, and soft tissues. Without them, your dental team could potentially miss diagnosing many issues, including cavities, dental infections, diseases of the bone, developmental disorders, cysts and tumors.
- Radiograph shows the entire tooth including the nerve, as well as the surrounding ligament and bone.
- Usually taken to diagnose a specific problem, or in a Full Mouth Series of Radiographs (see below).
- A set of 2 or 4 x-rays that show the posterior teeth.
- Taken yearly
- Used to diagnose changes in the teeth and surrounding tissues.
Full Mouth Series
- A set of 18 x-rays, comprised of both bitewings and periapicals.
- Usually taken at initial visit, then every 5 years afterwards.
- Show much more detail than a set of bitewings, including the entire tooth, nerves, part of the jaw bones, and the sinus floor.
- A two-dimensional dental x-ray that captures the entire mouth in a single image, including teeth, upper and lower jaws and the surrounding structures and tissues, such as the joint and sinuses.
- Can reveal advanced periodontal disease, cysts in the jaw bones, jaw tumors. and oral cancer, impacted wisdom teeth, jaw disorders, and sinusitis.
- Dentists follow the ALARA principle, which stands for “As Low As Reasonably Achievable,” when obtaining radiographs. This radiation safety principle limits your exposure.
- Lead apron and thyroid collars help to limit radiation to your thyroid gland (in your neck) as well as your internal organs.
- The x-ray beam is limited to the size of the image receptor whenever possible.
- Digital sensors significantly reduce your exposure compared to traditional film.
- The use of proper exposure and processing techniques.
- The amount of radiation that you receive from dental x-rays is often much lower than you would get from everyday activities. For example, the amount of radiation of a single x-ray is equivalent to eating two bananas and having a full mouth series (18 x-rays, usually done every 5 years) is a third of the radiation that you receive from your normal daily environmental radiation exposure (cell phones, sunlight, etc).