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Understanding Dental X-Rays: Why You Need Them Every 12 Months

When was the last time you had a dental X-ray? If it's been over a year, you may miss important information about your oral health.

In this post, we'll explore dental X-rays' importance in maintaining oral health and answer common questions, like why you need them every 12 months. Regular dental checkups are critical for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. X-rays are important in spotting potential issues you can't see with the naked eye. 

So, let's dive in and learn more about how dental X-rays can help keep your smile healthy and beautiful!

What Are Dental X-Rays?

Dental X-rays are like special photographs of your teeth and gums. They help your dentist find things not seen with just the naked eye. These X-ray pictures are taken using a special machine that gives off a tiny amount of radiation. But don't worry – it's a very small and safe amount!

There are 3 types of dental X-rays your dentist may use to get a complete picture of your oral health:

Bitewing X-rays

One type is called bitewing X-rays. These X-rays capture images of the upper and lower back teeth. They help your dentist see if cavities are hiding between your teeth or if your fillings are doing their job correctly.

Periapical X-rays

Another type is periapical X-rays. These X-rays focus on specific teeth and show the entire tooth, from the crown to the root. They help your dentist see if there are any infections or problems deep inside the tooth or around the roots.

Panoramic X-rays

Panoramic X-rays are yet another type of dental X-ray. They give your dentist a complete view of your mouth, including your jaws, teeth, and surrounding structures. These X-rays help spot issues like impacted teeth, jaw problems, or irregularities in bone structure.

Since we’ve explained the 3 types of dental X-rays, let’s discuss how your dentist captures the images.

How Dental X-Rays Work

When you get a dental X-ray, a small sensor or film is placed inside your mouth, and you bite gently on it. The X-ray machine is positioned outside your mouth and quickly takes the picture. It's painless and super quick!

The X-ray images show your dentist information about your teeth, gums, and supporting structures. They help your dentist identify any problems that may not be visible during a regular dental checkup. The images are valuable tools for helping diagnose and plan the best treatment for oral health needs.

Why Are Dental X-Rays Important?

Dental X-rays are like superheroes when it comes to your oral health. They have incredible advantages in helping dentists detect and prevent problems early on.

Spot Problems in the Early Stages

One of the biggest advantages of dental X-rays is their ability to detect dental problems early. Sometimes, dental issues can hide beneath the surface, and they might not show any visible signs or symptoms. But dental X-rays can catch these problems before they become bigger and more painful. Dentists can provide the proper treatment and prevent further problems by finding issues early.

Find Hidden Issues

Dental X-rays can reveal hidden problems you can't see with the naked eye. For example, cavities can hide in the tiny spaces between your teeth, where you can't see them when you look in the mirror. But dental X-rays can capture these hidden cavities, allowing dentists to treat them before they cause more damage.

Uncover Infections

Infections can also be sneaky, hiding deep inside your gums or even around the roots of your teeth. With dental X-rays, dentists can find hidden conditions and provide early treatment. It can prevent the infection from spreading and causing more severe problems.

Locate Impacted Teeth

Dental X-rays are also helpful in finding impacted teeth. Sometimes, teeth may not grow in the right position and become stuck beneath the gums. This can cause pain and lead to other dental problems. Dentists can spot impacted teeth using X-rays and plan the necessary treatment, including extraction or orthodontic intervention.

Detect Bone Loss

Dental X-rays can also show if the bones around your teeth are decaying. This can happen because of gum disease. Dentists use X-rays to see how much bone is lost and make a plan to treat it and stop more damage.

Diagnose and Treat Oral Health Problems

By capturing X-rays of your teeth, gums, and the things holding them in place, dentists use these to find problems with your oral health. They can find holes in your teeth, infections, teeth that are stuck, and bone loss you can't see just by looking.

So, the next time your dentist recommends dental X-rays, remember they play an important role in keeping your oral health in check. 

How Often Do I Need Dental X-Rays?

Deciding how often you should get dental X-rays is not a one-size-fits-all situation. It depends on several factors, including age, health history, and current oral health condition. You may need X-rays more often if you're dealing with specific issues. 

But, as a general guideline, you need dental X-rays every 1 - 2 years to spot potential problems or changes in your teeth and mouth.

Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

A common worry patients have with dental X-rays is the risk of radiation exposure. But, you can trust chance of radiation exposure levels with modern equipment is very small. Your dentist cares about keeping you safe and takes many steps to ensure you're protected from any potential harm.

Comparing the Risk of Exposure

Dental X-rays involve very low radiation doses and are designed to capture images with the least amount of radiation needed for clear results. The radiation levels from dental X-rays are about the same as the radiation we experience daily from things like the sun and the environment.

Dental X-Rays Have Strict Safety Guidelines

Also, dental offices follow strict safety rules to ensure you experience as little radiation as possible. Lead aprons and thyroid collars are commonly used to protect the body and sensitive areas from unnecessary radiation.  

And – dental pros follow the "ALARA" principle, which stands for "As Low As Reasonably Achievable." Their goal is to minimize radiation doses while still capturing high-quality images.

With advanced technology and strict safety measures, dental X-rays are considered safe and pose minimal risks. Overall, the benefits of using dental X-rays to find dental problems outweigh the small amount of radiation exposure. Your dental team cares about your well-being and wants to ensure you stay safe during the X-ray process.

Communicate Openly With Your Dentist

Working together with your dentist is important for a healthy mouth. You should feel comfortable talking to them and asking questions about your X-rays. Your dentist wants to hear your concerns and ensure you understand X-rays' benefits and safety.

Everyone is different, and your dentist considers your age, dental history, and current oral health when deciding how often you need X-rays. By talking openly, asking questions, and sharing any worries, you and your dentist can make the right decisions for you.

When you and your dentist communicate well, you can make informed choices about dental health and keep your smile healthy and strong. Your dentist is here to help, so don't be afraid to talk and share.

Experience Convenient Dental X-Rays Near Me

In closing, dental X-rays are important for maintaining your oral health. Routine dental X-rays help protect your teeth from cavities, infections, and other oral health issues. Also, they provide essential information to guide treatment plans to keep your smile healthy and strong.

Remember, every individual's oral health needs are unique – it's best to talk to your dentist for personalized advice on how often you need dental X-rays. Working together, you can create a dental plan that suits your needs and keeps your smile healthy and beautiful.

If you’re seeking convenient and safe dental X-rays in Central Ohio, book an appointment with us at Greentree Dental. Our team is committed to providing timely and thorough dental care using advanced digital X-ray technology.


  1. Cleveland Clinic: Dental X-rays
  2. Web MD: Dental X-rays
  3. Texas Center for Cosmetic Dentistry: Are Dental X-rays Necessary?
  4. Definitive Dental: Are Dental X-rays Really Necessary?
  5. Copeland Family Dentistry: All About Dental X-rays

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