Why do we need X-rays?
X-rays are used to see areas that cannot be seen from examining the mouth. They allow the dentist to see cavities located between the teeth, examine areas for periodontal disease (bone loss), see infection or cancer, and gather other very important information.
Are they harmful?
X-rays at the dental office are a much lower dosage of radiation than what is thought by many people. For example, a single chest x-ray is nearly double the radiation as a full mouth series (eighteen x-rays) of x-rays. A set of four x-rays, also known as bitewing x-rays, is eight times less radiation than would be received from taking a flight from New York to Los Angeles. Interestingly, we receive 80 times the radiation from the food we eat over the course of a year than that received in a single dental x-ray.
What is a 3-D x-ray?
A 3-D or CBCT (Cone Beam Commuted Tomography) x-ray creates cross-sections of the head or area of the head that is then used to recreate a virtual 3-D model. Essentially, we are able to take a scan of the head where it can be spun around in all directions to gain information in 3-D.
Why is it used?
It is often used to locate impacted wisdom teeth, allow for better planning and increased accuracy in placing dental implants, diagnosing TMJ disorders, and locating hard to see sources of pain or disease.
How does a 3-D or CBCT x-ray differ from a medical CT scan?
A CBCT image is focuses the exposure in a smaller area so images are clearer and has ten times less radiation than a medical CT scan.