When you attend a routine dental check-up, your dentist performs a visual exam. They look at your teeth and gums and can find potential issues this way and then provide appropriate treatment. However, your dentist will also likely recommend that you obtain an x-ray of your teeth each year.
Health experts agree that an oral x-ray is safe, but you may still wonder why you need this extra diagnostic tool on a regular basis. Read on to find three uses of routine dental x-rays that will help you maintain good oral health.
3 Reasons Your Dentist Recommends X-Rays
Spot Hidden Tooth Decay
A majority of people will form a cavity, an early form of tooth decay, at least once in their lives. Sometimes, you can tell you have a cavity because you see a dark discoloration on the tooth or feel tooth sensitivity pain. But not all cavities will present with noticeable symptoms.
Your dentist will check your smile during a routine exam for signs of cavities. But cavities can form in tricky spots in your smile, including between your teeth, where a dentist cannot see with the naked eye.
If you get an x-ray of your teeth, any cavities will show up clearly on the image. Then your dentist can find them and offer swift treatment before the decay worsens and causes lasting dental damage. You can avoid costly restorative dental work by treating cavities promptly.
Evaluate Tooth Pulp Health
The interior of your tooth, the pulp, can sustain damage over time which might not always have clear symptoms that you can see from the tooth’s surface. For instance, if you suffer blood flow problems in the tooth pulp, you might get a dead tooth. This is not necessarily a dental emergency, but it could put you at a higher risk of infections that may require extensive treatment like root canal therapy.
Your dentist can spot problems with your tooth pulp on a routine x-ray. Then after confirming a diagnosis of a tooth vitality concern, the dentist can know to monitor the tooth going forward. Or they can offer urgent treatment for infected tooth pulp.
Monitor Tooth Growth
Most people will lose all their baby teeth and have their permanent adult teeth grown into place by adolescence. A dentist can monitor the growth of these teeth and note any changes in their position using x-ray imaging. The x-ray will reveal teeth below the gumline and display any shifts in alignment.
The x-ray can also show wisdom teeth, which usually grow after puberty and often cause oral health complications when they do. Then the dentist can keep an eye on these molars and intervene if it looks like they will disrupt your smile or become impacted.
The dentist can perform an extraction of these wisdom teeth to maintain your good oral health. Otherwise, you can suffer from misaligned teeth, which can heighten your risk of other dental problems.