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Why Do I Need X-Rays?

Like your kids’ school photos, x-rays need to be updated annually because a lot can change in your mouth in a year. If you were wondering, “why do I need x-rays?” at your latest dental appointment, here’s why they are an essential diagnostic tool for your dentist to help you maintain a strong and healthy smile.

X-rays can help your dentist spot:

  • Problems Hidden in a Tooth or Below the Gum Line
  • Teeth and Roots that are Out of Line
  • Developmental Abnormalities
  • The Cause of Oral Swelling
  • Bone Loss and Tumors

Problems Hidden in a Tooth or Below the Gum Line

Even with your best “aah” during your dental exam, there’s a lot that your dentist can’t see without an x-ray. An x-ray will allow your dentist to see if you have decay forming in your tooth, around a filling, or at the root. It will also allow your dentist to spot gum disease below the gum line.

An x-ray will also reveal if previous treatments such as root canals have been successful or if further treatment is needed. If you’ve experienced trauma to a tooth, an x-ray can help your dentist diagnose any injuries.

Teeth and Roots that are Out of Line

X-rays are also essential for helping your dentist identify the position of teeth in your mouth. In children, an x-ray will show if your child’s roots and teeth are in the proper position and able to descend on their own. Teeth that are stuck or impacted in the gum can cause damage to surrounding teeth and misalignment. An x-ray will show if surgery is necessary to correct the problem. Crowding of still-undescended adult teeth can give the heads-up that future orthodontic work may be needed.

In adults, factors like aging and tooth grinding can cause teeth to shift positions. Rotation or crowding can occur, causing plaque build up. X-rays can track any movement of teeth from year to year.

Developmental Abnormalities

In children who’ve lost a baby tooth, sometimes an adult tooth doesn’t show up. A dentist can use an x-ray to see how many teeth are in the mouth and determine if there’s an adult tooth missing. In some cases, there might even be extra teeth!

An x-ray will also show developmental abnormalities such as malformed tooth enamel or bite irregularities.

The Cause of Oral Swelling

Swelling in the mouth can be a sign of a serious issue. Your dentist will use an x-ray to determine the cause of it. The x-ray may reveal the presence of a dental cyst, which is a pocket of fluid and inflammation that forms near a problematic tooth. Another cause may be an abscess, which is an acute infection in the gums that can lead to further infection. This is more serious than a cyst as it can cause further infection to spread around the body.

Bone Loss and Tumors

Dental x-rays are also instrumental in detecting bone loss in the mouth. Losing a tooth, aging, and gum disease can all contribute to the loss of bone density in the jaw. X-rays will reveal the state of health of the jaw and if treatment is necessary.

X-rays can also detect the presence of tumors or oral cancer.

Affiliated Dentists in Madison, Wisconsin

Here at Affiliated Dentists, we recommend a full mouth series of dental x-rays for new patients, which would only need to be updated every three to five years. We will take bite-wing x-rays of the top and bottom teeth biting together once or twice a year at check-up visits.

If it’s time for you to schedule your check-up, please call us today. Affiliated Dentists offers general dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin.

Why Do I Need X-Rays? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson

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