Dental X-Rays: Detecting Six Potential Problems

For some dental patients, x-rays are the most uncomfortable and irritating part of a routine office visit.  

When dental x-rays are taken, patients typically need to remain in uncomfortable positions for extended periods of time. Also, many patients are uneasy about getting frequent dental x-rays because of the idea of being exposed to radiation.  

However, dentists routinely take x-rays of patient's teeth for a variety of important reasons. X-rays are used to detect all of the following issues that are important to detect and treat early to avoid severe complications and discomfort:

Cavity development

Most patients already know that x-rays are used to detect cavities. Decayed portions of patients' teeth show up clearly on x-rays. In fact, dentists can detect tooth decay with x-rays that might not be visible during a normal visual examination by the dentist. 

Detecting a cavity early on can save patients from the pain and expense of having a root canal. The longer tooth decay is left to progress, the more likely it will reach down into the dental pulp and require a root canal. 

Bone infections

Like teeth, bones around the mouth like the jawbone can also develop potentially debilitating decay issues that need to be treated early on to minimize complications. 

Gum disease

Dental x-rays can indicate that a patient's gums are suffering from periodontal disease or gum infection. X-rays can show that bone levels have receded, and this is an indication of periodontal disease. 

Tumor development

Oral cancer can develop in the gums, lips, salivary glands, tongue, and on the floor or roof of the mouth. As with many types of cancer, oral cancer is easiest to treat if it is detected early. 

Mouth cancers typical develop from squamous cells that divide at an abnormally rapid rate and grow into tumors. X-rays are one of the best ways of detecting these abnormal growths before they become visible to the naked eye. 

Developmental issues

X-rays are especially important for young patients because they help to detect developmental problems in the mouth as the patient grows. X-rays can indicate severe orthodontic problems that require correction or show a dentist that a baby tooth needs to be pulled because an adult tooth is growing in quickly underneath it. 

Impacted teeth

Impacted teeth are teeth that are stuck within the gum tissue due to the presence of bone or another obstruction. The longer they are left in the mouth untreated, the more painful they become and the more dental and orthodontic problems they can cause. 

For further assistance, contact a local dentist, such as David Jackson, DDS.