Dental X-Ray – Dental Treatment

Introduction –Dental X-Ray

Dental X-rays are pictures of the teeth, bones, and soft tissues around them performed to find problems with the teeth, mouth, and jaw. X-ray pictures can diagnose early cavities, hidden dental structures (such as wisdom teeth), and bone loss which cannot be seen during a visual examination. Dental X-rays may also be done as follow-up after dental treatments.

The following types of dental X-rays are commonly used:

  1. Bitewing X-rays: they show the upper and lower back teeth and how the teeth touch each other in a single view.
  2. Periapical X-ray: they show the entire tooth, from the exposed crown to the end of the root and the bones that support the tooth. They are used to diagnose impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts, tumors, and bone changes.
  3. Occlusal X-rays: they show the roof or floor of the mouth and are used to find extra teeth, unerupted teeth, jaw fractures, a cleft in the roof of the mouth (cleft palate), cysts, abscesses, or growths.
  4. Panoramic X-rays: they show a view of the jaws, teeth, sinuses, nasal area, and temporomandibular (jaw) joints.

Digital X-ray is a new method used in some dental offices. In this case, a small sensor unit sends pictures to a computer to record and save.

Indications – Dental X-Ray:

Dental X-rays are done to:

  1. Diagnose conditions of mouth such as tooth decay, bone damage, and dental injuries (such as broken tooth roots). Dental X-rays often find these problems early, before any symptoms are present.
  2. Find irregular and non-erupted teeth. They also diagnose impacted teeth (teeth that do not erupt because of overcrowding.
  3. Diagnosis of cysts, solid growths (tumors), or abscesses.
  4. For seeing the locations of future permanent teeth in the jaw of children who still have their primary (or baby) teeth.
  5. Formulate treatment plan for large or extensive cavities, root canal surgery, dental implant placement and difficult tooth removals.
  6. In orthodontic treatment of teeth which are not lined up in a row.

Without X-rays, dentists may miss the early stages of decay between teeth.

Before the X-ray test:

The dental technician asks the patient to bite down on a small piece of cardboard or plastic.
The dentist should be informed if the patient is or may be pregnant. In case of pregnancy, routine dental X-rays may be postponed to avoid exposure of fetus to radiation. If dental X-rays are absolutely needed, a lead apron is placed over the belly to shield the baby from the X-rays. No other precaution is necessary before X-ray procedure.

Procedure – Dental X-Ray:

  1. Dental X-rays are taken in the dentist’s office and the reports are read by the dentist.
  2. A dental technician covers the patient with a heavy lead apron as the patient sits upright in a chair. This apron shields cover the body and prevent unwanted exposure to X-rays. Modern lead aprons also have a collar (called a thyroid shield) to shield the thyroid gland from radiation.
  3. The technician wears a protective apron or stays behind a protective shield.
  4. The dental technician asks the patient to bite down on a small piece of cardboard or plastic. The cardboard or plastic holds the X-ray film.
  5. The patient may have to do this process several times and in various angles to get pictures of all the teeth. This can also be accomplished by new X-ray machines with a camera circlingaround the head and taking pictures of the teeth in sitting or standing position.
  6. Mouth should be rinsed before and after the X-rays.

X-rays take only a few minutes and are not painful. There may be some gagging on the plastic or cardboard that holds the X-ray film. The patient is advised to focus on something else (such as an object on the wall) and take slow, deep breaths through their nose during the X-rays. This reduces anxiety associated with the procedure.


Radiation used in dental X-rays is very low. Hence, there is very little chance of problems due to the X-rays. Routine dental X-rays should be avoided in pregnant women till the delivery, although there is no proven risk of routine dental X-ray for a developing baby (fetus). Delaying the X-ray for a few months usually does not result in further harm to teeth.In only a few case, an urgent dental X-ray is required to deal with the dental problem.

- Link of interest: Twitter Dental X-Ray – Dental Treatment.


This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.

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