X-rays (or radiographs) are an essential diagnostic tool for dentists.  For patients new to our practice we will usually ask to take a minimum of 2 bitewing x-rays.  This is so we can determine the present status of your oral health and have a baseline to help identify changes that may occur later.  X-rays are so important because they provide valuable information about things we can't see under the gums, under fillings, and in between your teeth, such as hidden dental structures, malignant or benign masses, bone loss, and cavities.

Depending on your oral health a panoramic x-ray or other additional x-rays may be recommended.  X-rays that are no more than 12 months old can be used if you have them, or they can be forwarded from a previous dentist.

When objections to x-rays arise, the main reason is usually fear of radiation exposure.

At Smilefocus we only use digital x-rays which are much safer than previous technologies.
  Modern digital imaging limits radiation exposure to about the same as you experience in a normal day from environmental radiation.  A routine exam which includes 2 bitewings is about 0.0025mSv, which is less than one day of natural background radiation. It is also less than the amount of radiation exposure from a short (1 – 2 hour) flight on an airplane.

The x-ray beam itself is extremely precise.  A lead apron and collar are worn for added protection.  The x-rays plates come in different sizes so if you have a small mouth, for example, a smaller size film, even a child’s size film, could be used.  This will minimise discomfort.

Patients can choose whether to proceed with the recommended treatment. At the same time, they can also refuse any diagnostic test, including dental X-rays but by doing so, your dentist might not be able to provide appropriate dental care due to incomplete diagnosis, therefore it is important to discuss your concerns, treatments and diagnosis with your dentist.

Types of X-Rays


Bitewing x-rays provide vital information to aid in the diagnosis of the most common dental diseases; specifically tooth decay and periodontal bone loss or gum disease.

Periapical x-rays show the entire tooth, from the exposed crown to the end of the root and right down to the supporting bone. The results are used to detect problems below the gum line or in the jaw, such as impacted teeth, abscesses, tumors, cysts as well as other bone changes that may be connected to other diseases.

Panoramic x-rays show a broad view of the entire jaws, teeth, sinuses, nasal area, and temporomandibular (jaw) joints. However, these x-rays do not detect cavities but show problems such as impacted teeth, bone abnormalities, cysts, solid growths (tumors), infections and fractures.

A Cephalometric x-ray or simply referred to as a ceph, is a diagnostic radiograph used mainly in the planning of orthodontic treatments and is taken during the orthodontic records appointment.

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