Getting a dental X-ray is a normal part of routine dental exams at Brewery District Dental. Our dentists obtain them to detect dental disease (cavities or gum disease are simple examples) and to plan a course of treatment. We understand that you might have questions about what to expect during an X-ray, as well as concerns about radiation exposure. We would like to start by reassuring you that the amount of radiation your dentist uses in a typical X-ray is less than that used for airport screening, chest X-rays and other common scans.

The Difference Between Intraoral and Extraoral X-rays

Common uses of intraoral X-rays include cavity detection, investigating the health of tooth roots and the jawbone surrounding teeth, monitoring general oral health and checking if teeth are developing normally.

Types of intraoral X-rays include:

  • Bitewing: This shows details of the lower and upper teeth in an isolated area of the mouth. These are the common X-rays taken at a routine dental exam.
  • Periapical: These X-rays show the tooth from the crown to its roots as well as the bone supporting it in the jaw. The periapical scan allows your dentist to detect tooth deformities, that aren’t visible otherwise.
  • Occlusal: These are larger X-rays that display the full development of each tooth on the upper or lower arch. These are less common in adults, and more commonly used for children.

The panoramic X-ray is an extraoral image that exposes more of the skull and jaw, and not just the teeth. It provides a nice overall view of the patient’s entire mouth region, and dentists use them to obtain a broader overview of impacted teeth, to detect problems between the jaw and teeth, to visualize the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and to monitor the development of the jaws as they relate to the teeth. The panoramic X-ray shows all teeth in a single scan.

What to Expect When Receiving a Dental X-ray

You will sit upright in a chair when you receive your dental X-ray. One of our dental assistants will lay a lead apron on your chest and a thyroid collar on your neck to absorb radiation. The assistant will then place a digital X-ray sensor or a traditional X-ray film inside your mouth. The entire process takes only a few minutes. Please let us know if you have a strong gag reflex so we can provide you some tips to make your X-ray experience as comfortable as possible.

Common Sources of Radiation in Everyday Life

Most people don’t consider the fact that the things they do every day expose them to radiation. Watching television is a prime example. With the typical person two years or older spending up to several hours a day in front of the TV, radiation exposure adds up quickly. Cell phones also emit radiofrequency waves, but the amount released is not yet a concern for any government agencies to issue a health warning. Smoking, medical imaging, and even just eating certain foods (like bananas and seafood) are additional common sources of radiation in daily life.


Contact Us with Questions

Our dentists are always happy to answer your questions about X-rays or any other oral healthcare topic. Please contact Brewery District Dental at 604-522-2425 with your inquiries or to schedule an appointment.

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