When most people think of reasons to get an X-ray, they picture broken bones and a trip to the emergency room. But X-rays from your local dentist are far more common. Why do dentists X-ray your teeth, and is this procedure safe?
Reasons to Have Dental X-Rays
The purpose of a dental X-ray is to examine parts of the mouth that aren’t visible to the naked eye. People of all ages can safely receive X-rays from their local dentist. Here are the top reasons X-rays are recommended for dental patients:
- Observe how permanent teeth are developing in a child’s mouth before they erupt through the gum line.
- Determine if the patient has room for wisdom teeth to come through. If not, an extraction may be recommended.
- Figure out if the patient has any extra or missing teeth that could affect their dental care.
- Identify the presence of cavities, infections, cysts, tumors or abscesses that aren’t visible from the surface.
- Prepare the patient for braces.
Why Dental X-Rays are Considered Safe
Radiation exposure is the biggest concern people have about receiving X-rays. However, the American Dental Association points out that the dose of radiation from a dental X-ray is only 2.5 percent of the total radiation patients are exposed to from receiving regular medical X-rays. The levels are so low that radiation exposure from natural sources such as soil and radon are far higher.
How to Make Dental X-Rays as Safe as Possible
While there is little concern that the minuscule amount of radiation from a dental X-ray could cause a patient any harm, your local dentist should still take the following precautions to minimize your exposure as much as possible:
- Require patients to wear a leaded apron to protect the chest, abdomen, and pelvic area from radiation. Offer leaded collars for patients with thyroid conditions.
- Train staff members to use X-ray machines safely.
- Use the latest digital X-ray equipment, which minimizes radiation exposure compared to older technology that develops images on film.
- Allow pregnant patients to opt out of receiving dental X-rays.
At Zen Dental Center, we use advanced digital dental X-rays to help us see what’s going on under the surface. We highly recommend this quick, painless procedure as part of your routine dental care, but you can always opt out if you wish. To schedule your next dental exam and X-ray with a reliable local dentist, please call our Seattle office at 206-324-1100 today.
Good dental health is important no matter your age. That’s why we recommend visiting the dentist for a checkup and teeth cleaning twice a year or as often as recommended by your dentist. Here are six ways regular teeth cleaning visits benefit you:
Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities
The number one reason people visit the dentist is to prevent cavities. These holes form when plaque begins eating away at the outer layer of your teeth called the enamel. Plaque is a sticky white deposit of bacteria that clings to your teeth. Brushing and flossing daily helps to prevent plaque buildup, but a professional cleaning every six months is even more effective.
Avoid Gum Disease
Plaque doesn’t just decay your teeth – it also damages your gums when it builds up below the gum line. If allowed to advance, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Fortunately, regular teeth cleanings reduce plaque buildup and greatly reduce the chance of this happening to you.
Common habits – such as drinking coffee, tea and wine and using tobacco products – leave stains on your teeth. Brushing removes some of this, but thorough teeth cleaning and polishing from your dentist is necessary to truly brighten your smile.
Freshen Your Breath
Good oral hygiene habits are the best way to prevent halitosis or chronic bad breath. Brushing and flossing is a good start, but if you have an underlying dental problem such as tartar buildup – a hard, crusty deposit that stains your teeth and traps bacteria – you may struggle with bad breath despite taking good care of your mouth. Scaling, which is a technique dentists use to remove tartar buildup from along the gum line, is necessary to freshen your breath and restore your confidence.
Improve Your Overall Health
Your mouth affects the rest of your body more than you probably realize. It sounds odd, but regular teeth cleaning visits can help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke . This is because the chronic inflammation associated with gum disease can lead to hardened arteries, which can, in turn, cause a heart attack or stroke. Many other seemingly unrelated medical conditions, from kidney disease to diabetes, can be detected in their early stages simply by visiting the dentist.
Save Money on Restorative Dentistry
One of the biggest reasons people skip routine teeth cleanings is to save money. However, the cost to clean and polish your teeth is far less than the restorative dentistry required to fill a cavity or treat periodontal disease. As it turns out, a bit of preventive care helps you avoid unpleasant and potentially costly problems in the future.
If it’s time for your next teeth cleaning appointment, or you have other dental needs, please contact Zen Dental Center at 206-324-1100.