Your Complete Guide to Dental X-Rays

Dental x-rays are an incredibly common occurrence during a dental examination. They are instrumental in picking up on things that just aren’t visible during a regular exam. These little problems can be severe. The slightest bit of hidden decay can quickly turn into an infected root, a spot of gingivitis can become advanced gum disease and a little black mark could be something quite sinister.

However, x-rays can be a little intimidating for patients that aren’t used to them. Getting an x-ray of an arm or leg is a lot different to an x-ray being taken inside your mouth. Fear comes from the unknown, so read through this guide and remove the fear!

your complete guide to dental xrays

Types of Dental X-Rays

There are several dental x-rays, all of which perform different roles. The most common include:

  • Bitewing X-Rays: This type is the most common, and most people will have one of these taken during their life. They take their name from the shape of the machine, and these images are useful for showing cavities between teeth. They are perfect for picking up on those little spots of decay or tiny cavities that can quickly create the need for a root canal or other invasive treatments.
  • Panoramic X-Rays: These machines are actually quite fun and very sci-fi. You stand in the middle of the device, and it whirs around your head. The images provide a panoramic view of the teeth and bones in your mouth and show any irregularities that could spark further investigation. It can also be used to indicate issues wisdom teeth.
  • Periapical X-Rays: This type of x-ray offers a more specific image than bitewing x-rays, although it operates similarly. They are usually used for patients to find infections and abscesses.
  • Dental Cone-beam CT (CBCT) Scans: These x-rays provide the most detailed form of dental imaging. The three-dimensional images of roots, jaw and teeth require more radiation than the other types, so they are only used in specific cases.

All of these x-rays come under two broad categories of dental x-ray:

  • Intraoral: These x-rays provide information from inside the mouth and are the most common type. They provide information on cavities, developing teeth as well as general information on the health of teeth, jawbones and gums. A bitewing x-ray is an intraoral x-ray.
  • Extraoral: This type of x-ray does show teeth, but it is primarily focused on the jaw and skull. A panoramic x-ray is an example of an extraoral process. They don’t provide as much detail as intraoral processes, but they are invaluable in showing impacted teeth, as well as monitoring how jaws are developing in relation to teeth.

What are Digital X-Rays?

Digital x-rays are a newer form of x-ray technology that many dentists are employing. This type of imaging offers many advantages over older technology:

  • It uses far less radiation than conventional x-rays, making it safer for patients
  • The images are produced almost immediately, so there is no need to wait for the x-ray to develop
  • The image is shown on a screen so it can be enhanced and enlarged for greater insight into your dental health and any potential problems
  • The images are stored electronically so they can be sent to other dentists or specialists, which is vital in providing you with the best possible care. It can also be sent to a new dentist if you move to a new area or clinic

Should I Be Worried About Radiation?

Absolutely not. The amount of x-ray you will be exposed to during a dental x-ray is tiny, and with modern technology, the amount is always shrinking. In fact, the amount of radiation you will be exposed to during your dental x-ray is far less than what you will experience from natural sources, such as background radiation from walking around outside.

X-rays are only used when necessary, so if your dentist suggests once, it’s because you need it.

So, that’s dental x-rays explained. There’s nothing to be worried about is there? They aren’t scary machines, they are incredibly useful devices that are used to safeguard your oral and overall health.

To Our Valued Patients

Dr George Olstein takes the health of his patients and employees very seriously. Due to COVID-19, we understand there is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty regarding the situation at the moment. We are being consistently updated from the Australian Dental Association and DHHS in Victoria with regards to any changes in practice from a health and hygiene perspective.

Dr George Olstein is monitoring the Coronavirus situation closely and are listening carefully to the questions and concerns we receive from our patients.

We would like to reassure our people, patients and the broader community that Dr George Olstein has always had, do and will continue to have exceptional clinical standards. We are highly commended for our robust policies and procedures, particularly around infection control including hand Hygiene.

The recent events associated with Coronavirus have seen Dr George Olstein develop an additional comprehensive policy specifically considering the virus, which has been adopted by all our team.

This includes but not limited to;

  • Avoid handshaking, hugging and kissing.
  • Please use the provided antimicrobial hand rub before entering the clinic and before leaving the clinic.
  • Please be aware that we will be conducting regular disinfection of the surfaces at the reception, waiting areas, water station, washroom and the entry doors.
  • Similarly, we are also working closely with our business partners to guarantee the continued supply of masks, gloves and other infection control items.

We consider you part of the Dr George Olstein family and your safety, together with that of our team’s, remains our highest priority.

We look forward to welcoming you on your next visit and will continue to update you on any further developments.

If you have any further questions, please contact us –

Best regards,
Dr George Olstein