You might not feel comfortable having one, but dental X-rays are an essential part of any dental care treatment plan. They help your dentist pinpoint the exact cause of that annoying discomfort or pain in your mouth and can often prevent unnecessary procedures.
Inside and Out
There are two main categories of dental x-rays: intraoral and extraoral. As the names suggest, intraoral X-ray is taken inside the mouth, while extraoral x-ray is taken outside of the mouth. Intraoral X-rays give a lot of detail and allow a dentist to find cavities. It also looks at the roots of your teeth and the bone surrounding the tooth.
This helps determine if periodontal disease is an oral care issue, check the status of developing teeth, and monitor the general health of your teeth and jawbone. The main focus of extraoral X-rays is the jaw and the skull. They are used primarily to monitor growth and development of the jaws in relation to the teeth, as well as to identify potential problems between teeth and jaws and the other bones in your face.
While any kind of radiation is considered potentially harmful, the dose of radiation used when you are taking a dental X-rays is extremely small. It is even smaller if your dentist is using newer technology such as digital X-rays. While all radiation you are exposed to during your life adds up, the exposure associated with dentistry, represents an extremely minor amount compared to the total in your lifetime.
If you are concerned about the radiation, call your dentist and discuss it when them and ask if they have the latest digital X-ray equipment.